Students taking college courses in high school could be at risk for increased stress

Posted at 6:00 AM, May 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-09 06:21:42-04

High school students experience increased pressures as college prep becomes more rigorous and competitive. Students taking college courses in high school are trying to decrease the expected workload in college, but at what cost?

Local experts say getting ahead for high school students, might not always be the best.

"I take Psychology 101 and English 121,” said Victoria Varner, a junior at Cleveland Heights High School. What she's describing has nothing to do with being your average student.

“I like being able to go for half the day out and not have to worry about the people in the school," she said.

She's talking about taking college classes at John Carroll University, and it's not all glamorous.

“The hardest part would be managing my time between the two and due dates," Varner explained.

According to Pediatric Psychologist Dr. Vanessa Jensen from the Cleveland Clinic, Varner’s feelings are pretty common, and that can be the main stressor for students. 

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“We're basically asking our kids now to take college courses, as juniors and seniors and it's almost expected if you're applying to a high-end college," said Dr. Jensen.

With an increase of those stressors, comes an increase in other mental and emotional issues.

“It is very stressful. I see a lot of teenagers very, very stressed. Headaches, and stomachaches, and a lot of mental health stress," explained Dr. Jensen.

Between AP, International Baccalaureate and College Credit Plus courses, Dr. Jensen says teens have way too much on their plate, and it's stealing away precious time, even making them a bit anti-social.

“There are students feel a lot of pressure to all these advanced level classes… And then every moment seems to be focused on academics, makes it harder to do extracurricular and social things," Dr. Jensen said.

But it's not all bad, Dr. Jensen said aside from saving money and getting general classes out of the way, it can sometimes give certain students the outlet they need.

“It does give some students the chance to get off the campus of their high school and be more independent," Jensen said.

Like for Varner, who said she's ready to leave the high school life behind.

“You don't have people rushing you to go to class, ask you where you're supposed to be all day, it gives you more freedom.”