Adults often look back on high school as four of the best years of their lives. While not having a family to feed and rent to pay can certainly make high school a relatively care-free time, high school students struggle with pressure from several different areas. Whether you are a parent or a student dealing with these pressures, understanding the sources of common high school struggles can help you cope with them and communicate more effectively with others about them.

Fitting In

A high school student is just beginning to learn what she wants her identity to be, and how that identity will mesh with those of others. Socially, high school is a constant struggle between the desire to forge one's own path and the desire to be liked and accepted by others. These sometimes conflicting desires come into play with a student's fashion choices and the decisions that they make socially, such as selecting extracurricular activities or deciding whether to express potentially unpopular opinions.

Maintaining Grades

Whether a high school student wants to further his education immediately after high school or spend time in the workforce first, maintaining the best possible grades is important. It is also a difficult challenge to keep grades up when a student may also need to work to save for a car or college, and have fun whenever possible.

Plans for the Future

A person often changes career directions many times over the course of her life, and high school is often the time when a person begins to think seriously about what they want to be "when they grow up." A high school student spends a great deal of time thinking about whether they want to prioritize money or personal fulfillment, along with the decision of whether or not to pursue higher education. Planning for the future can be even more difficult when the student has a different idea than her parents about what is best.

Substance Use

Most high school students have access to drugs or alcohol, and at some point may be offered one of these substances by a friend. High school students often have a feeling of invincibility leading them to believe that nothing bad can happen if they try something "just once." It takes great personal strength to resist this temptation.

Sexual Pressure

High school students experience "raging hormones," and are likely to feel pressure or desire to experiment sexually. However, children of this age are far from prepared to deal with the complications of an unplanned pregnancy. Frank and honest communication between a student and his parents can help him navigate the difficult sexual decisions that must be made at this age.