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Are You Working for Yourself or Your Parents?

Are You Working for Yourself or Your Parents?

A man cradles his head in his hands, looking dazed in stress at a computer screen.

Over Pressured Students 

By Ben Wexler 

We all know that parents can be catalysts for the proper development of youth, but has the pressure that parents place on students to achieve in school, extra-curriculars, and beyond crossed a line? 

Recent Hollywood depictions and tiger parenting stories show students who are pushed physically and mentally to achieve and achieve. Some live out their parents’ dream and become that picture of success, and others become strung-out, feeling like they will never be or achieve enough.  

The Pew Research Center found that most parents in the U.S., at 56%, believe that they are placing too little pressure on students. On the other hand, only 15% of parents believe that they are putting too much pressure on students. 24% of parents believe the pressure is just right. [1] But what do the students have to say about it?   

For students at Walla Walla, a Collegian Instagram poll found that 61% feel pressure from parents to achieve certain grades. While parents seem to be pressuring students to maintain a certain standard for grades, most parents gave their children the freedom to pursue their desired major. 83% of students at Walla Walla University stated that they did not choose their major based on their parents’ expectations.  

A screenshot of the poll results is shown, with the poll question placed above the results in bubbles showing the answer and percentage of responses.
Results of the @aswwucollegian poll, which asked students if they felt pressure from their parents to get certain grades. 61% of students said they did, while 39% said they didn’t.
A screenshot of the poll results is shown, with the poll question placed above the results in bubbles showing the answer and percentage of responses.
Results of the @awwucollegian poll, which asked students if they chose their major based on their parents’ expectations. Only 17% of students said that they did, and 83% said no.

While some may underperform in school without a healthy amount of pressure, students who invest all their time into education and extracurriculars might miss out on developing key social skills and their own identity. Parents who take away their kid’s childhood by over pressuring them to get into ivy league schools also miss out on developing a well-rounded child.  

A study from Lewis and Clark college found that even though students who spent more time focusing on school achieved more academically, they tended to be more anxious and took on physical symptoms due to the stress. Only 6% of the 4,000 students surveyed thought that the homework was useful to their courses and career. [2] 

Students reported “a general lack of balance in their lives, feeling like they needed to choose completing their homework over engaging in social, physical, and restorative activities that could support their well-being,” said Mollie Galloway, director of research focusing on social justice and human development at the Lewis and Clark graduate school. Further, the study found that students who experience higher levels of stress are more prone to headaches, exhaustion, stomach problems and sleep deprivation. [3] 

See Also
The Melvin K. West Fine Arts Center.

A person is sat on a chair, legs crossed, with their hands holding their head on either side.
When achievements are emphasized over learning in an education system, people are more incentivized, by the fear of failure, to cheat. Photo by Liza Summer (n.d.).

These consequences inhibit learning.  

Children who are placed under too much pressure by their parents are more likely to experience mental illness due to constant pressure and anxiety to perform. When achievement, rather than learning, is the end goal, students are incentivized to cheat. Even more, kids who are burdened by such a high standard set by their parents have a greater chance of giving up and not participating in activities when they don’t think they will shine. [4] 

Learning should be fun. Rather than focus on achieving grades, parents should encourage students to invest into learning new fields and finding an area that they enjoy. [5] 

References 

  1. Wike, R., & Horowitz, J. M. (2006, August 24). Parental pressure on students. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2006/08/24/parental-pressure-on-students/  
  1. Stenger, M. (2018, July 24). Don’t overload students: Assigning too much work discourages learning. InformED. https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/dont-overload-students-assigning-too-much-work-discourages-learning/  
  1. Ibid
  1. Morin, A. (2020, September 22). The dangers of putting too much pressure on kids. Verywellfamily. https://www.verywellfamily.com/the-dangers-of-putting-too-much-pressure-on-kids-1094823  
  1. Stenger, M. (2018, July 24). Don’t overload students: Assigning too much work discourages learning. InformED. https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/dont-overload-students-assigning-too-much-work-discourages-learning/ 
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