Can seniors afford to slack off?

I’ve gotten several requests from parent readers to pen a post about the importance of keeping senior year grades up. The last time I touched on this topic, today’s seniors were just high school freshmen. So here’s the link to that past post, Seniors: Keep up the good work, which explains how maintaining your academic performance can help you get admitted, and then stay admitted.

I recognize, too, that many high-achieving seniors have had their feet on the academic and extracurricular gas pedals for years at a pace that really would be unsustainable for most adults. Rising before 7, going to school all day, doing activities in the afternoon, and studying until past midnight—it can take a physical, mental, and emotional toll. If that sounds like a familiar pattern, please remember a few things that I hope you’ll find encouraging.

First, this type of demanding schedule is primarily a high school phenomenon. College will not be like this. Most jobs are not like this. That sentiment may not bring immediate relief. But difficult circumstances are easier to bear when you know they are temporary.

The ambition and work ethic that you’re demonstrating now are also the surest signs that you’re bound for success in life. These traits will remain in your life even when this level of daily demands does not. Please remember that, no matter which colleges say yes.

And finally, if you really are feeling overwhelmed and unable to keep up, please consider speaking with your high school counselor. Harvard psychologist Shawn Achor writes in The Happiness Advantage that “verbalizing the stress and helplessness you are feeling is the first step towards regaining control” [of stress]. And more importantly, cases of anxiety and depression are increasingly common for high school kids. Whether you’re dealing with stress or something more serious, your counselor will be able to help you.