Summer break is for personal growth, not educational prep

“What are your plans for the summer?” This is a common question that high schoolers are asked, including students at Berkeley High School. A question that was once a fun opportunity to talk about exciting vacations or plans has turned into yet another stressful interrogation about college prep.

Summers are meant to be a time for high schoolers to rest, have fun, and focus on personal growth. However, as college applications creep closer and closer, even time off fills with jobs, internships, and classes. The burden of college applications takes a huge toll on BHS students. Academic pressure and expectations should not barge into summer plans.

The pressure and expectations placed on children to not only excel academically, but engage in extracurriculars have multiplied exponentially. This has led to even more stress and mental health issues for teenagers.

According to a 2022 study by The Princeton Review surveying high schoolers about college applications, “Among respondents overall, 74% reported ‘Very High’ or ‘High’ stress about their applications. Twenty years ago, in 2003, the survey’s initial year, only 56 percent of respondents reported ‘Very High’ or ‘High’ stress.”

Students are required to do more and more to set themselves apart; they need time to themselves to rest, without the constant burden of college pressure. 

Summer is an important time for students to appreciate a lack of extreme structure, which counters the intensity of the academic year. If BHS students don’t utilize summer as a time of rest, they can quickly spiral into unhealthy and unattainable habits. 

Some might think that summer is an additional time to pack as many activities in as possible, but there are so many different ways to set oneself up for success, and it is crucial to know when enough is enough. 

Students’ mental health is much more important than a few simple activities that won’t really set anyone apart. If there is a certain internship or class that is truly interesting to a student, they should absolutely take the break to focus on that. However, if a student is only participating for the sake of putting things on their college applications, they should rethink their decision.

Mental health is endlessly more important than a few extra items on a list of extracurriculars on a college application. In the end, no activity is worth risking one’s mental well-being.