Last year, middle and upper school students took a survey about their experiences at Harvard-Westlake. The results are in, and we feel compelled to share them with you. Students who felt that they failed to meet their parents expectations suffered –– they got less sleep, enjoyed academics less and were more likely to cheat (see A1).
In light of these statistics, we ask you to collaborate with us in order to help us achieve balanced success in these next few months. From a young age, we have felt pressure from a multitude of sources: extended family, peers, teachers, coaches and ourselves. It is often your opinion, however, that matters most; it’s your expectations we strive to meet and your nod of approval we seek.
While we want to continue accomplishing our goals and relishing in our successes alongside you, we don’t want this to come at the expense of our mental health. With college decisions arriving for seniors and midterms beginning for all of us, we hope you will keep in mind the weight your opinions carry in our minds. Feeling like we don’t meet your expectations only results in negative consequences; we will feel discouraged with our surroundings and dissatisfied with our progress, causing us to seek ill-suited compensations to win favor again, ones that don’t necessarily guarantee success.
We don’t wish to blame you for any erroneous choices we make ourselves, but it’s necessary for you to be aware that there is a correlation between how you respond to our behavior and how we react in turn. We strive to make you proud of us and to be proud of ourselves, but we also want to simultaneously stay healthy, happy and be at peace.
At this point in our high-school careers, we ask you to trust that we have internalized the values you taught us.
You have seen us pursuing our dreams and putting our full effort into doing well in high school and getting to the next step of a good college. You have seen us juggle extracurriculars and academics. We want to succeed just as badly as you want us to, but we also want to enjoy our high school experience.
The support you have given us throughout our lives has pushed us to become the students we are today –– thoughtful, passionate and high-achieving. We are immensely grateful for this and the sacrifices you have made in order for us to succeed and become the people we are today. We know that we would not be here without you and your encouragement.
That being said, we need you to continue giving us your support and input but in a less imposing manner. Your love and comfort are what pushes us to keep going when things don’t go as we wished. If we don’t get into a college we applied to, we hope you will recognize our dismay and only seek to uplift us. If we don’t do well on a midterm, we hope you will keep in mind all the hours we studied to perform the best we possibly could. If we don’t do as well on a standardized test as we expected, we hope you know we are just as disappointed as you are. If we don’t love a college as much you do, we hope you recognize that we have developed strong sense of selves and respect that we know where will succeed both academically and socially.
We ask you to take the time to reflect on our thoughts about our Harvard-Westlake experiences. It’s important for our mental health and for yours.
All our love and gratitude,