Stress in high school is inevitable. You’re moving from an environment in which you are the oldest people—the big shots—to one in which you are freshman—inconsequential little blips in the high school hierarchy. As you get older, you think it would get easier seeing that you have grown accustomed to your surroundings. However, it doesn’t. As you make your way through high school, you begin to realize that the expectations set before you are being raised daily. First you’ll have to decide what friends to make, who your social circle will be. Next you’ll pick your classes, but if you pick wrong, it could not only affect the rest of your time in high school but also your entrance into college. You think your friends will be able to help you, but they really only know as much as you do. You think your parents will be there to guide you, but you fear that you’ll disappoint them. When the people closest to you seem to lack the answers, it’s hard to decide which is the right path for you.
Far too often, we as teenagers put too much on our plates. From the time we start middle school we begin to feel pressured to join honors classes. As time wears on, this burden only begins to weigh heavier with the addition of AP classes, extracurricular activities, clubs and just regular social drama. No matter what you do, if you continue to overload yourself you’re bound to break. That’s where school counselors come in. Yes, I said it—your school counselor. The person assigned to take care of you by your last names. Believe it or not, they are there for more than just to help you with your college recommendations. School counselors are there as a resource for you to take advantage of.
One common misconception is that a school counselor’s job is only to help students with their college plans. In the past 20 years, the role of school counselors has evolved substantially. “We actually don’t like the term ‘guidance counselor’ because it’s outdated terminology that does not represent the broad scope of what school counselors do. Our role encompasses a wide range of topics: academic, college/career and personal/social development. In a single day, I could talk to one student about their post-high school plans, another student about high school graduation requirements and which classes and levels would be the best fit for them, another student who is feeling anxious/depressed and finally another student who is struggling with issues with their friends or at home” said Ms. Blount, a counselor at Chattahoochee. A lot of the time, students feel as though the adults at the school are intentionally antagonizing them—maybe they have a mean teacher or the workload is too much for them. When life starts to get a little too overwhelming, it’s important to know that they have an asset in the school—someone who will be on their side.
Sometimes, it can get hard as a teenager. To you, your problems are as real as ever; however, every adult you talk to seems to never really take you seriously. For us, our GPA is the end-all-be-all of our academic success. The parties we get invited to dictate our social standing. When those things don’t go as planned, it can get stressful. It’s reassuring to know that you have someone on your side no matter how inconsequential your problems may appear. “Our goal as a department is to teach kids to keep balance in their lives,” stated Ms. Blount, “Some students want to know the ‘magic number’ of AP or Honors classes they should take to get into a certain college and what their class rank is. Our answers are: (1) there is no magic number of AP or Honors classes, and (2) we stopped reporting class rank because we wanted to remove some academic anxiety since Chattahoochee is a high-performing school, and it is becoming increasingly less important to colleges as an admission factor. We encourage students to find the “best fit” school for themselves, not the “best school” according to someone else. What really matters is that students are working to their potential and challenging themselves appropriately, but also that they are able to balance their academic work with having fun and enjoying high school.” School is meant to develop students into well-rounded people; however, it has morphed into a competition to be the best in only one or two areas. Your GPA or test scores do not define you. In the words of Ms. Blount, “be your best self and be authentic to who you are as a person. That will set you up for success and happiness!”