Seventeen-year-old Chicago senior Kyle S. knows what it's like to be stressed. An A student, he is involved in his school's drama club, the school newspaper, and participates in the local Chicago Children's Choir. In addition to a heavy load of AP and IB courses, Kyle has started applying to college. He hopes that his best will be enough to live up to his parents' standards for him.
As more and more students strive to be accepted to the nation's top colleges, even "safeties" have gotten increasingly more difficult to get into, and kids feel an enormous amount of pressure. "You begin to question yourself...if this girl was written up in Time magazine but didn't get in to a prestigious college, I need to do more," Kyle says.
Parents may start out grooming a soccer star or a violin virtuoso, but the ultimate prize for the overachiever's family is the "right" bumper sticker for the family car, indicating their "family's" acceptance to a competitive college.
"I just want my parents to let me deal with things on my own," says Newark high school senior, Charlotte A. "I feel personally stressed when my parents are on my back about getting my work done."
Kristen M., a 17-year-old New Jersey senior, says, "There is more pressure to be the best-of-the-best now. Adults need to help kids find realistic goals instead of pushing them beyond their limits."