News, Opinion, & Multimedia for Tamalpais High School

The Tam News

News, Opinion, & Multimedia for Tamalpais High School

The Tam News

News, Opinion, & Multimedia for Tamalpais High School

The Tam News

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The best years of my life


The high school experience is a stressful, rocky journey. It is hard enough with demanding classes, social complications, and extracurriculars that excessive pressure is unnecessary. Whether it’s from parents, peers, or oneself, academic pressure is not uncommon. At Tamalpais High School, grades are important to students, and the possibility of pressure overwhelming these academic pursuits is not something that they should have to worry about. 

“The pressure is a positive and negative thing,” junior Selby Orlanski said. “I think it drives me to work harder, but there have been moments when I’ve put too much stress on myself, which doesn’t end up helping me or my grades in any way.” 

“It’s mainly from me and I guess in a way, my dad, because I want to make him proud,” she said. “So I put pressure on myself because he’s putting pressure on me.” 

Orlanski’s junior year has kicked off to a fast-paced start and she feels that the intensity of parental and self-warranted stress has increased as she prepares to take the SAT and look at colleges. But junior year is not the only grade level that struggles with academic pressures. 

“I also find that freshmen come in really stressed, too. Because they don’t know about the expectations and all of a sudden, they have a lot more classes,” Tam Wellness coordinator Yvonne Milham said. 

She explained that parental academic pressure is common, but less so than self-applied. “More often than not, I feel like it is coming from a student themself and their expectations, which potentially could be linked to parents. We grow up in a family that has ideals that they share with us, as we get older,” Milham said. 

Societal expectations, especially in Marin County, are tough to achieve. The bar is set high for students and pressure can hinder their ability to reach their academic goals. This standard of the “perfect” student seemingly comes from parents’ perspectives of what their child’s future will look like. 

At Tam, there is a diverse array of students with different interests and future plans. On Oct. 6, a survey regarding academic pressure was taken by 406 students, and when asked on a scale of one to ten, ten being a lot, how much pressure students feel from their parents, the average of all answers was seven. The next question—how much of your academic pressure is self-applied—had top answers of eight and nine. These results reinforced the ideas of academic pressure at Tam. 

When asked, “How does this academic pressure affect you mentally?” the results were staggering. Students claimed that this pushed them to work harder, whether it ended in success or not. 

“I think the pressure is positive because it pushes me to get things in on time and motivates me when I’m struggling,” Orlanski said. 

Although students may feel that this stress is driving them, the effects of this pressure could become overwhelming down the road.

The Tam Wellness Center is no stranger to this occurrence of a student “dropping the ball,” as Milham called it. She reminds Tam students that there are lots of options for the road to success throughout and after high school. 

“I was talking to a couple of students recently who seemed so relaxed and enjoying their high school experience, and both of them were doing fine in school. They both plan to go to College of Marin (COM), and they both had this relaxed attitude, and I appreciated that vibe because your life doesn’t depend on grades. There are always multiple paths to whatever end you see,” Milham said. 

It should be recognized that not everyone will lead the same path in life, and parents, peers, and students themselves need to realize that, which may be difficult and will most likely take time. 

If students are constantly pressured about their grades, they will have no time to embrace the high school experience, whatever that may be. 

“Definitely talk to someone, come to Wellness, talk to us. It can feel better just talking about it,” Milham said.

It is important to take a deep breath and remember that in twenty years, it won’t matter what grade you got on that science test and there is no need to put pressure on high school grades when these are supposed to be the “best years of your life.” So live like they are.

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