Is the stress of getting into the right college crushing students?

Suzanne Monaghan
February 18, 2019 - 4:00 am

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- It's the time of year when high school seniors wait to hear if they've been accepted to their choice colleges. However, what should be an exciting experience is overwhelmed by angst for many.

The pressure to get accepted into a top college is causing mental health problems for many high school seniors, says Jeff Leiken, CEO of Evolution Mentoring.

"It's so stressful that any potential future happiness and success hinges upon getting into whatever they perceive as the right college,” he said. “That they treat this like it's life or death."

This trend started after the financial crisis of 2008, according to Leiken because our culture became focused on scarcity and competition and where success depends on being the best. 

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"What happened then was there became this fear that the only opportunity is going to go to those who are in the one percent," he said.

Leiken has worked with kids who had perfect grades, high SAT scores, participated in after school activities and volunteer work and still didn't get into an elite university.

But he wants young people to know the majority of happy, accomplished adults didn't go to one of the top 20 colleges in the country.

"Most of them will tell you that the vast majority of their success, even if they did go to one of those schools, and the things that they've learned to be successful, they learned outside of school," he explained.

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