At some point between the age of kindergarten and senior year of high school, children have forgotten that learning is a gift. Instead of fostering a desire to expand our minds and grow as individuals, our sights have fixed clearly on getting into our dream colleges.
So, what has gone wrong? Well, frankly, a whole lot. To start, from the time we begin middle school, we are challenged to find the best high school that will enhance our résumé. This places immense pressure on students to make important decisions for themselves at a very young age. While students may feel more socially content at one high school, they can be coerced into attending a different school because it looks better on a college application.
Likewise, once a student finally gets to the first day of freshman year, one of the first things the school decides to show them is the school’s reputation of college acceptances. It leaves a freshman thinking, “I am really happy for the one girl that got in to three ivy league schools! But please, let me try to get through my first full day of ninth grade.” The transition into high school is already hard enough, and it does not help that some people like to educate freshmen on the college admissions process before they have even completed one quarter or high school level classes. It is not fair.
In addition, high schoolers are pushed to do so much in their free time, that they lack even a little bit of time for themselves. Between challenging classes, an immense amount of extracurricular activities, and getting a job, fun has been pushed to the back burner. But, all of this is in the name of a shining college application! We, as students, are under the notion that doing the most we can in a day is superior to our own mental health. Doing “the best you can” does not seem to cut it anymore.
Now, I have completed 80% of my high school career, and I can truly say that I am burnt out. The past years have been filled with stress and the notion that there is always something else that I need to be doing. High school can be tough but when college comes into the picture everything can get even tougher. I am so eager to move on to college and have freedom that I think I have truly forgotten what it means to be a kid.
Now, simply attending a football game with my friends brings a great amount of stress because I have been taught that getting work done should always be at the forefront of my mind. What happens when life becomes all work and no play? Well, it is easy to find out. Ask any high school senior with their eyes set on their dream school.
While the education system has become extremely flawed, the biggest problem it has placed on the average American teen is the belief that contentedness is no longer part of the American dream. Oppositely, receiving an acceptance letter is the fire that should fuel all of our actions.
By Shannon Gleba’17, IHA News Editor