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  • McCoy Heaton ‘24

Pressure at SI–Both In and Out of the Classroom

Students in Biology class.

Many people have a variety of fears and phobias: spiders, cramped spaces, the dark. At SI, a common fear that almost every student shares is the fear of failure. SI is all about competition, in both academics and athletics, which creates an environment that puts pressure on students to get the best grades, make the best team, and do the most activities.

Academically, students feel pressure to take advanced classes and get straight A’s, a direct result of their fear of failure. Students feel pressured to avoid failure in whatever way possible and seek perfection. SI is fueled by competition and pressure–it’s what motivates students to excel academically. But is this pressure beneficial for students or damaging to their mental health? The pressure to succeed drives students to put effort into their work; however, when students overwork themselves, they compromise their mental health.

Similarly, athletics at SI are highly competitive. Making a team itself can prove to be a challenge, and even being on the team puts pressure on those individuals, as the competition to be the best on the team, the first in the lineup, is constant. The same argument could be made for athletics. Does this pressure drive individuals to do well in their sport, or does pressure push them too far?

The answer to the question is subjective. For many students, pressure is simply the motivation to do well, and is a necessary part of their work ethic. However, many students find that this pressure pushes them to their limit, an unhealthy habit for mental health.

Ultimately, handling the high level of pressure at SI can be difficult. The best way to handle pressure is to make mental health a priority. If a class is too hard, don’t take it. If a sport is too draining, try something else. Mental health should come first, and then focusing on succeeding will come easily.

McCoy Heaton ’24 is a Vol. 71 Contributing Editor.

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