Durham, NC — Over the summer, I chose courses for my sophomore year. And at my high school, people handle this selection process as if it’s classified information. Because everyone around me is obsessed with getting into college.
I remember asking an acquaintance, “What classes are you taking?” And his response was, “Oh, you know, I’m taking some classes,” while quickly turning away and shutting his laptop. I was so confused. I mean, what could he possibly be taking that's so special he kept it a secret?
Lots of my classmates do this. Nobody wants to spark an idea in a peer, or rather, a possible college competitor's mind.
I’m surrounded by people with this mentality. Everyone’s hyper-focused on being high-achieving students — doing anything to impress our parents, friends or even ourselves.
So even though I’m only a sophomore, I constantly think about college admissions. I'm maintaining my grades in school — for a college. I'm studying for the SAT — for a college. Everywhere I look, I'm forced to think about college. While I'm scrolling through Instagram, I'm coming across countless videos about how to get into college. Opening the news app on my phone, I'm seeing articles upon articles about college.
This pressure has been really hard for my mental health. I’m always treading a very thin balance of trying to do well while still hanging onto my sanity. For some students, their family only adds to the pressure. But I’m really lucky to have a supportive family to keep me grounded.
Shriya Dharmapurikar (she/her), is a sophomore in high school from Durham, North Carolina.
Edited by Amber Ly