Student Insights: Julio Mendez, Florida International University ’21

This article was written by Julio Mendez, a RaiseMe student editorial intern and a current freshman at Florida International University.

Julio earned $5,768 in micro-scholarships from Florida International University, with a strong Portfolio of achievements that included taking tons of AP and Honors courses, scoring well on his SAT and AP exams, participating in Theatre and serving as Copy Editor for his high school yearbook — all while working 20 hours per week at an after-school job.

Read on to learn about how he managed his stress juggling his busy schedule during senior year.

 

I can say with complete confidence that the stress I faced during my senior year was greater than the stress I faced my entire life up until then.  During senior year I was expected to: get letters of recommendation, write college and scholarship essays, fill out the applications for several colleges, figure out how to pay for college, find out where I was going to live if I moved away from my family, decide my career path, have enough money to pay for my senior year activities, and “prompose” to someone. All while maintaining a high academic level.

 

That is a lot of responsibility to place on a person, and most of you will face the same amount of stress that I did. In fact, in a 2013 survey, the American Psychological Association (APA) concluded that stress “is extremely common among teenagers”, with school being the primary cause, and planning life after high school being the second largest source of stress. I’m here to help. I’ve learned that, with the right attitude and outlets, stress can easily be overcome.

The Right Attitude

Most students go into senior year having already developed a general apathy towards anything school-related, this condition is known as “Senioritis”. Don’t fall victim to “Senioritis”. As appealing as it can be to just coast through senior year, it causes more stress than it prevents. While it may seem like you have paid your dues, senior year is perhaps the most important year of your high school academic career. It’s more crucial than ever to stay on top of everything. The decisions made in this year will potentially define the next four years of your life. Don’t take them lightly.

 

The Right Outlets

According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 2011, 12.8% of high school students have seriously considered suicide [2]. This shows that the stress we face can impact our lives in unfortunate ways. That is why we must learn to relieve our stress through healthy and positive outlets.

 

Consider Exercise

According to the APA, 32% of have teenagers reported that “they feel less stressed after exercising.” [3] By staying physically active, whether by walking, running or playing team sports, we can alleviate stress. Cardiovascular activities such as dancing, biking, hiking, and swimming release endorphins in our bodies, giving us a rush of excitement and satisfaction.

 

Hobbies are another great way to alleviate stress.

They distract us from what is causing the stress and allow us to clear our mind. Even reading and writing fall into this camp. A study by the University of Sussex showed that reading for six minutes could reduce stress by up to 68%, because reading eases the tension in muscles and slows the heart rate [4]. I personally enjoy writing. Writing can help you express your negative emotions through a constructive outlet.

 

Acknowledgement

The most important step in dealing with stress is acknowledging that you are afflicted by it, and if you don’t think you can deal with it alone, please talk to a counselor. Remember, it takes more courage to express one’s vulnerability than to suppress it.  

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