I was reading an article about how much pressure is put on high school students to get into good colleges and all the things they need to do to get into college. All of this is incredibly stressful and means giving up most other things that they might want to do or enjoy. Parents consider it a sign of Good parenting if their children get into a “good”school.
What seems so sad to me is that most Sudbury Valley students who want to go to a “good” college get in. What’s sad about that is that they haven’t given up as much. They do have to take their time to study for the SATs or the ACTs and of course fill out the applications but they haven’t spent time fluffing up their resumes with good looking extracurricular activities. They haven’t stressed for a single minute about grades or tests.
They struggle when they get into college just like every student because the work load is very different from anything they’ve had but since they’re much more used to managing their own time they often have an easier time adjusting to the high demands of college.
The sad part is that SVS students get into college at a similar rate that those from a highly affluent high school do without the stress that those kids in traditional schools endure for years. If getting into a good college is the goal of good high schools then we can see that it can be done with far less stress and trade off.
Some will argue that the students at SVS are self-selected intelligent kids from middle class families since there’s no financial aid but so are the kids from affluent high schools.
The question comes down to, if all the kids that were going to college anyway can be just as successful doing so whether they are pushed and stressed or allowed to relax and choose their own activities and ways to do things every day wouldn’t it be better to do the latter? Our young adults could arrive at adulthood happy, self-confident, capable and accepted at college as opposed to stressed and overwhelmed as they start their adventures as their own grown-ups.
It certainly seems like common sense that the pushed and stressed way would be the more successful way, but years of data show that either way works so let’s give our children the gift of emotional stability as they ascend into adulthood.