What Do the Students Say?

On November 5, 2019, Duchesne hosted a discussion among Upper School students that was moderated by Jen Cote, our liaison from Challenge Success. For those parents who attended, it was a unique and enlightening opportunity to hear directly from the girls on several topics, from school to life to parents. See below for the question and responses from the students. 

What is something you appreciate about this school community?

  • Friends with everyone
  • It's like a family
  • Strong relationships
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Easier to be yourself
  • Wise freedom
  • Teachers are willing to help you out
  • Always a sense of humor
  • No male-related stress
  • Small size

When you are on your way to school on Monday morning, what are 3 adjectives that describe your state of mind or how you are feeling?

  • Nervous 
  • Anxious
  • Excited
  • Hungry
  • Tired
  • Stressed
  • Excited to see friends

Can you identify the events or factors that tip your world out of balance? That is, what makes you most stressed and what are the conditions that lead to that?

  • Extracurriculars
  • Bad grades and resulting pressure from parents
  • Pressures of college
  • Having multiple tests/quizzes on the same day

We know you take your studies seriously. What is one of the most challenging aspects of performing well academically here?

  • A lot of pressure because parents expect you to do well and are disappointed if you don't always succeed
  • Comparing yourself to others; competition to be better than others
  • Lucky to have a faculty that cares about students, the challenge comes from home and pressure about getting into college
  • Extracurriculars that zap all energy

Extracurriculars: what role do extracurriculars play in your life? Why do you do them? Do they add or take away from your stress?

  • Student-athletes have to figure out how to balance work and extracurriculars
  • Sports take up a lot of time but alleviate it as well because athletics are fun
  • Add stress because it cuts into time to do school work

Many of you have full plates. Have you had to give up something you love in order to stay on top of the workload or deal with the pressure? 

  • Yes, some students reported having to pull back on doing art and music 
  • Other students cited using wise freedom to make choices — "are you going to watch TV and get a bad grade?"
  • Time management is important; students agreed about using free periods appropriately

How can parents best help you balance the challenge of your workload, extracurricular schedule, family/social commitments, and other stressors?

  • Parents are supportive; it's getting easier to manage "things" but when younger it would have helped if they helped us find
  • Parents telling you what to do is a stressor
  • Not communicating about upcoming commitments or forcing me to attend events is stressful

Junior year and the fall of senior year are infamous times for student stress. What does the transition from the early years to higher stakes years feel like for you? What messages are you getting around this from home, school, and peers? How do those jibe or conflict?

  • Freshmen often don't realize how important GPA is until junior year when the college search begins
  • SAT tutoring on school nights adds stress
  • In junior year, the research paper, SAT/ACT scores, and grades really count, so students feel more stress of looming college process and leaving for college
  • Teachers here really help you learn and grow. They emphasize the message that you can't get stressed out ahead of time because you're going to have to live it anyway
  • Receiving from parents advice to do things early is really helpful

Your parents care about you and want to communicate. And communication can be tricky. Students said the following about communication preferences:

  • Not while I'm working on homework
  • Ask more specific questions - how did you do on this test, rather than "how was your day?
  • Conversations after 9 p.m. are exhausting
  • Please don't bring up difficult topics in front of siblings
  • Ask me what I have on my schedule so that we can focus on that
  • Ask me when we can talk about it rather than just starting a conversation right then
  • Just give me a hug and say, "no matter what, we still love you."

Many young people mention the challenge of sibling comparison, and in particular, siblings at the same school. What might you say to parents who have more than one child in high school? We know parents from different families talk with each other, it's understandable. But we also know that there are ways that these cross parent conversations can have a negative effect on the conversation your parent is having with you. What might you say to parents about this cross conversation?

  • Constant comparison to siblings or friends is super stressful and hurtful
  • It's stressful when siblings are successful
  • It's important to support each sibling for her individual gifts
  • Hates to hear her mom talking about her to other moms

What is your personal relationship with failure and mistake making? What role do they have in your growth as a young person?

  • I'm okay with it because I don’t mess up very often
  • I have a fear of failure, but I have become accustomed to it and it will help me in life
  • It is not the end of the world
  • I'm a perfectionist I like things to be my way, but my parents help me come up with strategies/ failure helps in the long run
  • I feel like the Duchesne community supports me when I fail or make a mistake

As a digital native, what do you see as the pros or pluses of social media? What do you see as the cons or shadow side of it?

  • Pros: keeps you connected to friends; easier to communicate via social media than phone or text
  • Cons: easy to get addicted; pressure to portray yourself as perfect; it's obvious when you're excluded because you see others posting about something you were not invited to; it makes you constantly compare yourself to others; often followed by people you don't know, including college accounts

What brings you the most joy? That is, if you had a day to yourself, what would make you the happiest?

  • Time with friends and family
  • Going out of town
  • Relaxing and sleeping in
  • Playing with puppies
  • A spa day

What would you want your parents to say to you?

  • I'm proud of you
  • Recognize how much work I do
  • I love you
  • You're doing great
  • You're not a failure
  • We respect your opinion
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