Pressure to perform? SYNC lab’s platform YoungXperts brainstorms with youth about this topic!

9am lecture. 11am workshop. 2pm working at my side job. 6pm having dinner at a friend’s house. 9pm drinks at the student association. And between all those activities, I need to finish a paper and prepare a presentation for tomorrow. This is what my average Tuesday as a student looked like and is an example of the hectic life students nowadays have. For students, the pressure to keep all the balls in the air is high.

My student life is now behind me. Since four weeks, I am the new Junior Researcher of SYNClab. I am primarily involved in citizen science initiatives, like SYNClab’s youth platform YoungXperts. In this blog, I’ll dive into the theme of performance pressure. I’ll discuss the facts, share my own experience with performance pressure and explain how YoungXperts wants to give adolescents and young adults a voice in this mental crisis.

What we know about performance pressure among students

Performance pressure is a hot topic. You read about it in scientific articles, hear about it in the news and maybe experience it yourself as well.  What do we know so far? The most important facts about performance pressure among students are listed below:

  • More than 1 out of 3 young adults experiences pressure to perform (HBSC, 2021).
  • Among students, women experience more performance pressure than men (CBS, 2021).
  • The older students get, the more performance pressure they experience. 27% of the 12–13-year-olds experience performance pressure, while among 18-21-year-olds, the percentage is 60% (CBS, 2021).
  • The cause for pressure to perform differs between adolescents and young adults. For adolescents, pressure comes primarily from parents (35%) and teachers (30%). For young adults, the pressure to perform is felt mainly from society (more than 40%) (CBS, 2021).

My experience with performance pressure

The facts don’t lie. As a student, I also experienced pressure to perform. Students from the current generation live in a time of insecurities. I am a student from the so-called “pechgeneratie” and fall under the student loan system. Life as a student is expensive, especially with the rising rental fees for student homes. Since I did not want my loan to be excessive, I started working 2 days a week, next to my studies. Furthermore, the student association also took up some time. A committee, some volunteering work, and sports; it filled my agenda. As a student you want to have some money to spent, build on your CV, get good grades, be social and be healthy. And we don’t want to miss a thing (FOMO).

Some tips from a fresh graduate student

Although I believe that a lot of societal developments (student loan system, social media, rising house rental/gas fees) play a role in the pressure students experience, there are some things you can do to reduce the external pressure. Because this time of your life is too much fun to live under the burden of performance pressure.

Here are my personal tips that might help you:

  • Make a planning for your week. Students are often busy with study, work, sports, and social life. With a lot of different activities in your head, you can lose the overview. Therefore, it is important to plan your week beforehand. This will give some structure and creates headspace.
  • Make lists and prioritize. This helps you to do one thing at a time. What should be done today and what can be done tomorrow?
  • Turn of your notifications. Your socials or work mail can be a large distraction. A notification is often another “to do” and can make you feel stressed.
  • Ask for help. Talk with your student advisor about the problems you face or seek professional help for planning.
  • Discuss your feelings of pressure openly with friends. They can often relate to it and maybe help you out.
  • Be kind to yourself. Block some moments in your agenda for free time, so you can recharge your battery.

Remember that experiencing pressure to perform is not something that you need to solve by yourself, especially since many adolescents and young adults feel pressure from their parents, teachers, and society. Perhaps we should also look for a solution to this problem in society.

YoungXperts as a platform to make performance pressure discussable.

YoungXperts started during the COVID pandemic. The platform aims to make science of value to adolescents and young adults, so that they feel heard and can participate in decision-making that affects their future (e.g., national and regional policymaking). Thanks to the funding of NWA (Nationale Wetenschapsagenda), our team of researchers is able to research three big crises young adults deal with today, including the pressure to perform. Until the Christmas break, YoungXperts will organize Living Labs at schools, universities, and youth organizations to co-create understanding of and generate tangible solutions for performance pressure among students.

Make your voice heard in our Youth Panel sessions!

Do you find it hard to keep all the balls in the air as a student? Do you want to work out tangible solutions for performance pressure with us? Or are you a teacher/youth worker who wants us to organize a Youth Panel session at your school or organization? Send me an e-mail ( or give me a call (06-36030220).



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