Parents pressure Academics


Smera Jain

Graphic courtesy of Smera Jain and Shivani Mudhol | The Phoenix

UCs and Ivy League schools have always been hard to get into; however, acceptance rates have hit an all-time low for the class of 2026. The University of California Los Angeles, the school that receives the most freshman applications, accepted only 12.3% of its applicants. Similarly, Harvard’s acceptance rate dropped from the previous 5.2% to 3.19%. Consequently, this rate of increase in rejections has left many high school seniors feeling dejected and high school underclassmen worried for their own futures. 

The Bay Area is home to some of the best schools in California. According to the “2022 U.S. News Best High Schools rankings,” San Jose has 44 schools ranked in the top 25% of schools in the U.S., while San Francisco has 84. While these schools provide great educational opportunities to students, they also place a lot of pressure on them to do well. For example, Silicon Valley, specifically, has numerous tech giants like Google, Facebook and Apple. Students growing up in the Bay Area, surrounded by accomplished figures and peers, feel the societal pressure to be outstanding and virtually inhuman through their efforts in order to compete with their peers. 

As students in high school begin to venture into their futures and careers, it has become evident that with the increasing competition, the pressure to do well has increased. Furthermore, these pressures are directly related to the increase in the deterioration of mental health in students. According to Pacific Teen Treatment, the demand for academic excellence and achievement leads to a clear increase in mental health disorders including anxiety, depression and more. With an emphasis on achievement over enjoyment, students these days are faced with the never-ending expectations to do better than their peers rather than following their passions. This pressure build-up can lead to even worse outcomes. According to the National Education Association, teenage suicide rates, specifically those caused by stress, have been increasing year after year. For example, according to the CDC, Palo Alto, California, is well-known for its high suicide rates. Students everyday face pressure from their peers, parents and the media to aim for even greater goals. Oftentimes, many of these goals are those that are forced upon students, rather than areas they are genuinely passionate about. Many parents will try and push their children in directions that they would like them to pursue, rather than what students want for themselves. The students lacking in their ability to express inner interests is detrimental to their self-identity and personal aspirations; instead of pursuing their passions, students are forced to do what others expect of them.

In conclusion, being a student in the Bay Area — one of the most competitive areas in the U.S. — is not easy with the innate amount of pressure. However, there are ways to get help. Talking to parents, teachers or peers and being honest is the first step in identifying  the pressures around oneself and how to overcome them. It is important that people act upon their desires, not their parents’. In the end, college is not everything, but college isn’t everything, but confidence, self-assurance and freedom are. In the end, success is subjective.