Less Stress, More Success - A New Approach to College Admissions and Beyond


The following information represents only a portion of a chapter from the above book. For more information about the complete book, please see the link at the bottom of this page.


American youth have a major problem…and we're not talking about sex, drugs, or rock and roll.
They are under such tremendous stress that it's damaging their physical health and psychological well-being. The pressure from parents and high schools to get into college is producing the most anxious, stressed, sleep-deprived generation ever. This pressure begins at an increasingly early age and threatens individual children as well as society itself. If we don't change our ways, many of today's youth may not be equipped to deal with adult challenges because we will have done real harm to their creativity, initiative, and potential to contribute and lead in the world. This problem has national implications.

Adolescents have always faced stressful experiences: coping with peer pressure, finding their own identity, breaking from parents to become more independent, and worrying about their future as adults. Such pressures affect every generation in different ways and to varying degrees. Young people have always had innate strengths and resilience, however, and most survived and even thrived despite the challenges of adolescence.

But the kind of stress on today's youth is unique. We are worried that the current trend of pressuring adolescents so intensely may undermine their natural resilience. They are driven to be perfect at everything, participate in scores of extracurricular activities to pump up their college applications, take as many advance placement (AP) courses as possible and earn As in each-all to reach the holy grail: acceptance at the best colleges…and oh, yes, they also must please adults along the way.

Kids aren't suddenly tossed into this pressure cooker on the first day of high school. Many parents are obsessed with getting children off to the swiftest academic start from birth. Toddlers are plopped in front of computers before they can talk. Parents try to enroll them in the "best" preschool to guarantee admission to the best primary school, which will ensure the best secondary school, which in turn will give them the best chance to get into an elite college. Parents don't stop with trying to provide every possible academic advantage; they also sign up their youngsters for enrichment programs throughout childhood so that they will acquire impressive credentials as young ballerinas, musicians, or artists. Athletics are good too, so their kids play at least one sport every season or-a growing trend-a single sport year-round, year after year, with the goal of becoming skilled enough between ages 7 and 17 to win an athletic scholarship.

What is this crazy pace doing to individual children and families? What is it doing to society? And what does it mean for our country's future? These questions and concerns brought us together from 2 distinct vantage points-higher education and adolescent medicine. Who are we and why do we care?


Chapter 1 My Epiphany

Chapter 8 The Problem with Perfectionism

About the Authors



Excerpted with permission from "Less Stress, More Success-A New Approach to College Admissions and Beyond" Copyright © 2006 Marilee Jones, Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MS Ed, FAAP, with Martha M. Jablow. Published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. All rights reserved.