Monday, June 11, 2012

Why Students are taking stimulants for the SATs

Adderall: prescribed for ADHD- used for test-taking focus

I have seen plenty of high school students who go to extremes to outscore their competition, but this practice is very disturbing. College admissions are more selective than ever, and these young students want their applications to stand out. I recently read a reprinted article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, written by Alan Schwarz of the New York Times, about students taking stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin so they can be hyper-alert and do well on tests: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/education/seeking-academic-edge-teenagers-abuse-stimulants.html?pagewanted=all

The article states, "The number of prescriptions for ADHD medications dispensed for young people ages 10 to 19 has risen 26 percent since 2007, to almost 21 million yearly..."  Students hoping to rise above the rest are buying these drugs from their peers. They take drug Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin and Focalin so they can have focus and energy for all night homework binges and long, tough exams.

Obviously these kids want to get into the best colleges. They are driven and will sacrifice the side-effects of these drugs (depression, mood swings, heart irregularities and acute exhaustion) just to get that edge on the competition. I know the demographic of these high achievers. Some have more pressure than their young minds and bodies can even take. They find it too hard to manage and want an easy way to keep up.

I urge parents to keep a close watch on what goes on with their high school student. Be aware of what their friends are up to. Ask questions. Make sure they know taking amphetamines and methylphenidates are controlled substances and those who sell them can be prosecuted as felons. Make sure they know that using these drugs is unethical. Simply put: It's cheating.

Then, know that there are other ways to stand out to college admissions. Check out how these high schoolers got into the Ivy Leagues and other dream colleges in the Merit project gallery. In my book, Beat the College Admissions Game: Do a Project, I write just how to be unlike the others. It's not as complicated as these young people think. I really hope they can try the holistic approach to standing out to colleges. Taking medications for energy and focus only teaches high school students the easy way to success. I think that we owe it to our children to teach them some skills they can use their whole lifetime.


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