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Do International School Students Really Have Lower Stress Levels?
Written by Yunjin Huh | Published. 2022.04.24 08:25 | Count : 388

[Image of International school students studying. Credit: Depositphotos]

Contrary to the popular belief  that students attending international schools have low stress levels, recent studies reveal that International school students suffer a similar level of stress from academic and career-related concerns to that of students attending Korean schools.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2019, 39.9% of high school students attending Korean schools replied that they recognized the stress they were receiving. This stress perception rate was found to be greater for high school students whose academic burden has increased due to college entrance exams.

In addition, a survey of 8,748 teenagers hosted by organization “SMART” revealed that the main cause of stress felt by teenagers was "academics” (50.5%). The second most common cause of teenagers’ stress was "friends" (15.34%), followed by “family" (11.43%), and "career" (11.32%). 

In addition to this, high school students attending international schools have also shown to have poor mental health. It is commonly believed that international school students, being exposed to freer learning environments, will have less academic stress than Korean school students. However, despite these conventionally held beliefs, survey results revealed that both stress levels and causes of stress were the same for both International and Korean school students.

In a questionnaire delivered to 9th graders (high school students) at Chadwick International School (CI) on the 18th, 39.2% of 51 students replied they “knew to some extent” and 60.8% said they “knew for sure” to a question asking whether they were aware of their stress. Not a single student answered "no" to this question. 

When asked about the main reason for being stressed, 52.9% answered "academics.” Subsequently, 35.4% answered "concerns/worries about their future career or university," 9.8% answered "social life," and only 2% answered "family relations." 

[Graph of survey results asking high schoolers’ main causes of stress, Credit: Yunjin Huh]

“I can’t handle the amount of workload I have. I feel tired because I have to stay up late every day to finish my homework. Also, when I see the pile of studies I have to complete at the end of the day, I feel skeptical about life," says ninth-grade student A in a later interview, confessing the burden she feels towards  her academics.


Student B also says "I get stressed out because of concerns about my future. I don't know what to study intensively because I haven't decided what I really want to do yet. I compare my friends, who have already chosen their dream colleges and have started various extracurricular activities, with myself, who struggles just to finish homework. I often feel helpless and weak.” 


Through these sources it was evident that the academic stress rates of students attending Korean schools and students attending CI were very similar. In addition, it was found that many students suffer from stress due to the increase in responsibilities and tasks that follow with the entrance of high school. 


On the other hand, the percentage of career-related stress was three times higher for students attending CI than that of  students attending Korean schools. The reason for this was rooted in the  difference in school systems. 


Since most Korean school students choose their majors after receiving good grades, concerns about career and university paths are identified to be almost equivalent to concerns about schoolwork. On the contrary, international school students take into consideration their college majors at an earlier stage. 


A prime example of this can be demonstrated through the example that a college counselor in CI sent an email this February 7 asking all 9th grade students to schedule a meeting date. As it is common for them to choose their career path and study accordingly, students at CI receive stress if they take a long time to choose their majoring subjects. 


In the meantime, the same questionnaire showed that a considerable number of students in CI are aware of where to reach help at school to reduce the stress they experience. When asked whether they knew where (at school) they could reach for help, 62.7% of the students said, "Somewhat," 19.6% said, "Yes," and 17.6% said "No." 


‘M’, a high school counselor at Chadwick International School, said in an interview, "Some students think that asking for help means their weakness. The school is trying to help students approach us comfortably without having to keep their stress all by themselves.” 


She added, "We (schools, counselors) also know the importance of overcoming stress in high school students. In addition to posting a counseling date schedule site on a ninth-grade site, we are also providing time for students to learn and talk about their mental health and well-being during ninth-grade advisory," introducing Chadwick International School's future plans for student stress.









Yunjin Huh

Grade 9

Chadwick International School








Yunjin Huh  hsr@dherald.com

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