ATAR Angst

My younger sister, Angela, is obsessed with getting into a particular uni course. The thing is, she’s only in year 8. I have to wonder if it’s healthy for a teenager to be so intensely committed to a five-year plan, but there’s no shutting her up about it. I probably wouldn’t mind if she wasn’t fixated on it to the exclusion of anything else, including friends and extracurricular activities that won’t directly contribute to university entrance.

It’s a bummer because she’s always been pretty carefree, and now she’s acting like a put-upon, middle aged executive with two mortgages and three kids. I wonder if it’s standard for schools to offer some kind of help with stress management for students? I mean, it’s not like teenagers have much conception of anything, let alone the detrimental effects of long-term stress on their health and wellbeing. I have no doubt that burnout is the furthest thing from Angela’s mind, but I’m concerned that it’s a possibility if she keeps this up for the rest of high school.

All this said, I think it’s good that she has a goal and the motivation to work towards it, and it makes sense for that to be encouraged. What shouldn’t be encouraged, in my view, is going through life with no techniques for managing stress. So, I have a question for the readers in Melbourne. Stress management trainers are a thing, right? Like, you can go and see a professional who specialises in teaching you how to deal with stress and minimise its impact on you wellbeing? If it’s not a thing, I feel like it should be.

Clearly, I am no expert in this beyond observing that getting in a flap about things – including things you care deeply about – isn’t the most effective way to go through life. It’s just not. Besides, teenagers’ brains aren’t fully formed yet, so how can a 13 year-old know with so much certainty that they want to be a surgeon when they grow up?