Note to High School Juniors: Stay Calm

Zoe, a high school junior, recently posted the following during a live Facebook chat hosted by the New York TimesChoice blogs.

“College stress from friends, teachers, and family is almost unbearable and I’m only a junior,” Zoe posted. “Do you have any advice to keep me from losing my mind? How do I remember that life is more important than college?”

The question, from a strong student with high SAT scores, stood out for  Jennifer Christensen, co-director of college counseling at Marin Academy in San Rafael, California.

“You are right: life is more important than college,” Christensen responded. “You absolutely need down time in your life; if you get into the habit of that now, it will serve you well in your senior year, in college, and beyond, and having that time to re-charge will make you a better student, friend, daughter, and person because you’ll be happier. Try to have a ‘help me find balance’ conversation with friends, family, and teachers. If you find that college talk increasingly dominates the conversation, perhaps try limiting it to certain times—maybe once or twice per week.”

Juniors, as you think about college, consider following Christensen’s advice by adding some down time to your lives NOW.

Study and get good grades, take challenging classes, sign up for your standardized tests, participate in sports and extracurricular activities that mean something to you, and please get some rest. There is a college out there that will want you for who you are, so take a deep breath and try not to let the process cause too much stress.

See what your peers said, and check out more advice from Christensen, in the Facebook chat.