Starting in freshman year, many of us are told that all of our efforts will be paid back in full when Senior year rolls around. Images of leaving campus at lunch to buy food with our friends and understanding teachers that act more like a friend than anything else come to mind. However, as many seniors found out the hard way this year, senior year is far from a walk in the park, and instead is a huge stress factor in what they have been told will be the best year of their lives. SLV senior Cloey Parker says that, “Senior year didn’t really live up to my expectations. It’s definitely not as fun as I thought it was going to be because of all the hard classes I’m taking.”
Despite passing junior year, a year filled to the brim with SAT scores and AP classes, senior year comes with its own list of stressful things to do including college applications and answering the dreaded question “What do I want to do with my life?” No longer is it a question of what one wants to be when they grow up, but instead a question of where am I going to be next Christmas? Senior Blake Owen said that “For me, Senior year has been stressful because of all the AP classes I’m taking. Sports are really helpful for coping with stress, and so is just hanging out and relaxing.”
Senior year’s so called “privileges” also come with all kinds of new responsibilities. Leaving campus at lunch means learning to drive, passing driver’s ed, and somehow coming across a car to call their own. Going to college suddenly isn’t a question of higher ED that will open the door to one’s calling, but instead four years full of loans and Top Ramen. “Despite school being difficult, I’m more stressed out about getting a job right now.” said Valo Kalvan.
Many students, despite senior year being difficult, found it to be easier than expected. “Junior year definitely prepared me for senior year [. . .] I feel like I can take on my course load thanks to Junior year.” said Cloey Parker.
Science also brings up points to why senior year can be so stressful to seniors, from how early school starts to statistics of teen drivers. Studies show that teens do best when school starts later in the day, and this lack of sleep only increases by the time students become seniors. Seniors also face plentiful issues when it comes to driving, with teen accidents being extremely common, and second only to suicide as the largest killer of teens.
Mental illness also spikes during the high school years, and the stress of graduating high school can drive far too many teens to dangerous behaviors. Palo Alto recently saw a spike in teen suicides, during the years of 2009 to 2011. The area became a “suicide cluster” in which dozens of teens took their lives and also 20% reported suicidal wants during high school. The anxiety of their parents is absorbed by them, and reported by many students as being the main source of their stress. The “go-getter” attitude of Silicon Valley engineers can spell out huge levels of stress for their children. Silicon Valley is seen as one of the biggest hot spots for teen suicide, and this obviously worries SLV students, since it is so nearby. Even if senior year leaves a student with a healthy mental thought process, college also is a huge possibility for mental illness to take hold. Many people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders also often see their conditions for the first time when in college. This paints a grim image of the future of high school seniors.
However, many students are also able to thrive in a stressful environment. Some are able to do their best under the pressure of senior year. College is also an exciting thing for many seniors, since it’s a chance to finally get away from home and find out a lot about themselves.
“I’m definitely going to make the best of life when I graduate. I’m going to go to an arts class in LA, hopefully, and get lots of tattoos and a rottweiler. Just make it happen.” said Becka Bee. Even if college isn’t in the future, life after high school promises the chance to finally decide what you want to do with your life. It’s terrifying, sure, but also promises to be exciting for our graduating seniors of 2016.
By: Serena Mendoza