I first began to notice the stress put on kids by their mothers when I was in my first couple of years of primary school. Most of my friends, only 6 or 7 years old, could never come over just to play, on the weekends or after school, because they had so many things on, from sports to debating. I was really confused as to why they did these things for quite a long time, considering most of them complained to me that they hated it.
Then, when I hit high school, my mother, who is not the pushy type at all (she let us choose what we wanted to do) told me about how one of her friends put her two kids into bands, sports teams, art classes and various other activities, simply to try... TRY and get them a fully paid scholarship into a local "prestigious" high school. It wouldn't have been much more expensive to just pay for them to get into the school... it's not like they were THAT exclusive. They take anyone who pays.
I then realized that, for some reason, mothers (and sometimes fathers, but not a lot of the time) seem to think that the better high school their child gets into, the better job prospects they have from university. Admittedly, the way the mark final test papers in Queensland is based on the scores of other people around you (if you do well and the rest of the class fails, you fail), therefore making a private school look more attractive. But this does not necessarily mean you will get a fantastic mark.
I was put through a private school, ended up with a pretty good final year result (enough to get put into teaching or psychology degree's), but I was rejected for all my courses! I had to wait half a year to be accepted into another course (Bachelor of Business). I'm now in my Bachelor of Human services and my marks from high school don't even matter any more. I'm making my own way, and the only extra activity I took at school was being on the student environmental council.
Actually, another thing that compounded the problem of stress in the students was that my school REQUIRED that every student take an after school activity, which I though was utter bull shit, specially for the grade 11's and 12's. The only activity that was worth it was being in any of the school bands, but that required... you know... musical talent.
Anyway, my main point is that there is already too much stress on high schoolers, from social pressures to school... don't add anymore. It's painful to watch.