The very nature of the high school student is to compromise their own desires in order to work toward maintaining an abnormally high GPA; the effects are often baffling.
The likelihood that any student will attend an Ivy league school is relatively slim. Not only is it incredibly difficult, but many people don’t feel compelled to attend one. According to Ivy Coach, the average percentage of students accepted into various Ivy league schools (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale) is 7.06 percent of all those who apply. Harvard alone admits 4.06 percent of all applicants.
As those terrifying statistics show, the competitive nature of the college application process is irrefutable. Even if you aren’t applying to one of these prestigious institutions, the reality is that nearly all colleges are competitive, often at the expense of students.
The requirements to get into any university are often taxing on students. In order to be qualified, students must be involved in various extracurricular activities, exhibit a rigorous course load and have numerous hours of community service logged. Students toil away their entire high school career in order to get into a good college, with some even fixated on going out of state.
Students are no longer working toward their own personal goals and are instead trying to fit the mold required to be admitted to an adequate college.
Students are no longer working toward their own personal goals and are instead trying to fit the mold required to be admitted to an adequate college. This begs the question as to whether or not people have two separate personalities: their school selves and their true selves.
“I think people focus on academics because they see their interests as hobbies or something to do as a pastime,” junior Rylee Berger said. “Academics are valuable and a good thing to focus on. But I do think that our society/community has conditioned this generation to believe that academics are the only way to achieve success and financial stability. I think we are losing people who are incredibly talented in the arts or humanities to the idea that if something you enjoy isn’t science or math related, it won’t be something that you can pursue.”
Berger isn’t alone in this belief. As students completed their course selection cards for the next school year, many attempted to pack their schedules with APs and honors and the recently introduced AICE courses. Their intent seemed more skewed as they only discussed taking difficult courses for the sake of competing with classmates or cushioning their GPA. Statements like “I can’t take a regular class” and “but I can take the AP equivalent for more credits” could be overheard above the sea of eager students.
“I think we are losing people who are incredibly talented in the arts or humanities to the idea that if something you enjoy isn’t science or math related, it won’t be something that you can pursue.”
Students are no longer confident in themselves due to the nature of high school. Over time, schooling has morphed into a rat race rather than a means of nurturing student’s minds. Students have to cope with feeling inadequate or lacking confidence in their true selves. While many tie their self-worth to class ranking and school involvement, others believe that school does not define who they are.
“Ever since I started high school, I realized that I had an opportunity to become friends with people who share the same passions [as] me, and that I can talk about what I truly believe in while other people share their ideas as well,” freshman Christina Caride said. “Although, the classes I’m taking are rigorous because I want to get a good education beyond high school. In my opinion, it’s [going to a good school] a small part [when it comes to defining who you are], and I don’t think it’s a necessary one. In my opinion, treating others with respect and love is one of the biggest [parts] and also being kind.”
Unfortunately, many lose the opportunity to embrace what they love because of how society perceives education. It is ridiculous to assume that pressuring students to load their schedules with copious amounts of work will not have negative consequences (i.e. stress, anxiety, fear of inadequacy, etc.).
“The truth is the whole class ranking system, PSAT scores, all of these things act as metrics for students to compare each other
Photo by Alexa Jaspan