Many parents have dreams of sending their children to attend the most prestigious colleges. Places like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton have become symbols of student success and intelligence. Parents pride themselves in sending their children to elite schools, thinking that their children will be guaranteed success. Although this dream could result in success, it could also turn into a nightmare.
The elite schools in the nation have reported problems with issues related to stress, mental health and even suicide . 35% of Princeton students said that they developed a mental health issue after coming to campus. Rates of attempted suicide at Harvard College are almost twice the national rate.
Top high schools in the nation have found the same issues occurring with their student population. New York University conducted studies on top level high schools evaluating stress, and mental health issues. Nearly half (49%) of all students reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis. 31% reported feeling somewhat stressed. A substantial minority, 26% of participants, reported symptoms of depression at a clinically significant level.
Parents & Schools are finding out that even the most intelligent students need help!
After-School Summer Programs
As we can see from these elite schools, mental health issues are a major problem. These intelligent students need to learn basic life skills to handle stress, overcome depression, and understand their value. These basic skills are not being taught in school. The elite schools have no idea how to remedy this situation.
In response to the evident need of students to learn these basic skills, Leadership Society of Arizona (LSA) has developed a curriculum to resolve some of these issues. Just this year, LSA has started to offer an after-school program that teaches this curriculum. It is designed to help students to reduce their stress levels, build confidence and increase happiness.
The LSA curriculum teaches students:
- To understand who they are
- How to manage stress & depression
- To realize their unique traits & value
- How to be successful in the future
LSA has proven in various summer programs to be extremely successful in reducing stress and issues in students. However, LSA had never tested this curriculum with students from top level schools.
LSA Partnership with BASIS
After discussing the LSA curriculum with former Principal Elizabeth McConaghy of Scottsdale Basis, she was intrigued by the results of the program. She immediately knew that it was something that her elite school needed.
The only problem was finding available time in the students’ schedule to attend the course. She decided to run a pilot after-school program with 4 sessions of 45 mins (3 hrs. total) to test out the LSA curriculum. This was extremely unique because usually LSA holds summer programs with a weeklong session for a total of 16 hours of instruction. Despite this unique circumstance, Scottsdale Basis became the first elite school to implement the LSA Curriculum with such a limited time commitment.
Elite School:BASIS Scottsdale
BASIS Scottsdale is one of the most prestigious high schools in Arizona. U.S. News ranked Basis Scottsdale as #2 best school in the nation and is ranked #1 in Arizona. Basis students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement courses and exams. 100% of Stude nts participate in the program. Basis students take an average of 11.3 AP Exams, which equally up to about 33 college credits. Based upon analysis of test performance and college readiness, it has some of the most qualified and intelligent students in the nation.
Observations of the program
The program consisted of seven students from 9-12 grade with only six completing the course. As we watched the students come into class, we could see the exhaustion from a full day of school. Although most students were tired, all of them wanted to be in class and were eager to learn. The unusual thing was that the students weren’t excited to go home. It was later on that I found out that they had hours of homework and studying waiting for them at home. Two students in particular would come into class and would work on homework throughout the entire class.
Despite the fact that they spent exorbitant amount of time on homework, none of the students knew what they wanted to do in the future. When asked “what the purpose of school was?”, they responded “get rich”, “go to college” and “get a good job”. The students were so caught up in school that they didn’t see the purpose of school. We explained to them that school was there to help them to fulfill their dreams, to improve themselves, and to add value to the world. Helping them to realize this concept made them more excited to come to school, less stressed about grades, and more focused on their dreams.
Results of program
At the beginning of the course, we were unsure of the change we would see in the students with such a short period of instruction. However, at the end of the course, we could see the change in their appearance. Their faces were less tense, their body more relaxed, and they thanked us at the end of every class, leaving with a smile on their faces.
We administered a survey at the beginning and end of the course to each student to track the change in each student. We found the results of the program to be significant to the students. The results are below:
- 42% Reduction In Stress
- 47% Increased Confidence
- 36% Increased Happiness
- 100% Enjoyed The Course & Would Recommend It
One of the students, that was forced to come, commented “This course helped me to lower my stress and learn more about my future”. By the end of the course, all the students were more excited to come to school and felt less depressed. As the main instructor for the course, it was amazing to see the change in the attitude of each student for the better.
Elite colleges and high schools struggle with students being able to cope with stress and worry. Leadership Society of Arizona has created a program that allows students to reduce their stress levels, build their confidence and increase their happiness. The BASIS Scottsdale pilot case study demonstrates LSA only needs a short about of time to be effective in benefiting intelligent students. The drastic change in the students’ stress and confidence is evidence of the effectiveness of the program. As we continue to test this program with other schools, we expect to obtain the same results. We look forward to partnering with more elite schools to tackle the hard issues of stress, depression and suicide.
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