The Student News Site of Redwood High School

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Construction students Taylor Bridges, Leila Fraschetti, Emmanuel Medina, Mary Coleman and John Kozubik (left to right) applaud their peers as they speak about their appreciation for their teachers and the resources they were provided.
Photo Essay: Redwood ROP Construction Program celebrates graduates
Isabelle DavisMay 23, 2024

  On May 22, the Redwood Regional Occupational Program Construction Technology celebrated the graduation of 19 Redwood students and...

Marin’s Finest Fairways: Reviewing the best public golf courses
Marin’s Finest Fairways: Reviewing the best public golf courses
Hayden DonehowerMay 23, 2024

Tee up for an adventure in Marin County’s vibrant golf scene! Get ready to explore the fairways, traps and views of the best public golf courses....

Illustration by Cora Champommier
Paying the price of adopt vs. shop
Chloe JenningsMay 23, 2024

The American population is becoming increasingly aware of ethical considerations around pets. Buying a pet from a breeder versus adopting a pet...

Sink or swim: Navigating education alone

$300. In my house, this is the cost to keep the lights on, the cost of our monthly electricity bill. If we’re lucky, this can cover the cost of the water bill too. These are the things my family prioritizes, but this is subjective. In other households, $300 is spent on a single college counselor meeting. This is not to say that any of these expenses are better or worse than the others, but simply that different people and different families have different priorities. 

Illustration by Lauren Olsen

College counselors and SAT or ACT tutors have become a part of the high school experience for many students, but what about the students who can’t or won’t spend money on them? It’s easy to feel left behind if you’re one of these students, like everyone else has a life vest while you’re left to tread water on your own.

The problem is not that students don’t have access to help. In fact, at Redwood alone, there are several ways that students can receive help — school counselors, the College and Career Center and peer tutoring to name a few. The issue that arises is that students often fail to utilize these resources for a myriad of reasons. A study published in Sage Journals found that the main reasons students don’t take advantage of free school resources are “stigma, a desire to manage problems themselves, a lack of a positive relationship with their school counselor and a concern that the counselor would not keep disclosures confidential.” With these issues constantly at the front of students’ minds, it’s no wonder they are afraid to reach out for help. When students feel judged by their peers or even the adults around them, it stops them from asking for help. However, when other students feel privileged enough to have a private counselor or tutor, they feel less shame around receiving help, simply because it wasn’t free.

According to an October Bark survey, 56 percent of students have worked with a private counselor or tutor outside of school. Given Marin’s socioeconomic status, it’s inevitable that many students are able to receive private help, but this only worsens the problem for students who can’t afford it. 

There is a certain fear of being judged that many students who use or rely on free resources feel. While this may not be picked up on by students who don’t feel this way, it’s obvious to the students who do. Public stigma and self-stigma play a role in this. According to the National Institute of Health, public stigma “refers to the negative attitudes held by members of the public about people,” while self-stigma occurs when people “internalize these public attitudes and suffer numerous negative consequences as a result.” Both of these contribute to the shame that some feel for accessing free resources in a place where the majority of people can afford outside help.

That being said, for most people, this problem is not a cause for major concern. If anyone truly needs help, their school will provide it for them; it’s just the mental barrier they must overcome to utilize it. This may sound simple, but high schoolers are at a sensitive time in their lives where 56 percent of them fear being judged by their peers, according to a study conducted in London. This fear can be paralyzing, and few even realize it. Asking for help is a skill that many people have to learn, and some are fortunate enough not to need to learn it at all. At the end of the day, no one wants to sink beneath those waves alone — it’s better to reach for that life vest.

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About the Contributor
Maya Winger
Maya Winger, Senior Staff Writer
Maya Winger is a senior at Redwood High School and is a senior staff writer for the Bark. She enjoys listening to music, watching the sunset and spending time with friends and family.