Because It Looks Good on College Applications

          You walk into your average high school and you see friends talking, students finishing their homework, or studying for a test the next period. Way back when schools were just being established, it was an honor to go to class and be educated. Students were amazed by the just a fraction of the information we have now. They could not wait to learn more.  Now, for most students, school is only about getting to the next level, which to high school students, is college.

         The idea of going to college is imprinted in our minds from a very early age. We learn that if we do not go to college, we will end up in a box on Lower Wacker Drive. Society frowns upon the uneducated, therefore we no longer learn because we want to, but because we feel like we have to.  Because of this pressure to succeed, most students are almost forced to take classes they do not want to. We feel almost as if we do not have the freedom to choose our own classes. Take this example. Mary is a high school student enrolled in a world history class. She really does not like history, or care about what happened in Mesopotamia, so why is she taking the class? The answer is a world history credit “looks good” on college applications. Now, Mary must pay close attention to a subject she is not interested in so that she can score well on tests, and receive a high grade. I am sure many of you have been in this situation before. In English class this year, my teacher has given very few guidelines for our written assignments, which is different from what we are used to. Our brains are hardwired to write practically using a formula, making it difficult to actually write creatively. We kept asking our teacher questions like, “How long does it have to be?” He would not give us an answer, which was frustrating at first, but now I enjoy the creative freedom and feel like I am becoming a better writer.

        This pressured feeling to succeed even trickles into the world of extracurricular activities. Sometimes the only reason a student participates in clubs or sports is because, once again, colleges like to see that a student participates in activities outside of school. I was talk to my friend the other day, and she asked me if I would join her club. When I asked her why she was making the club, she responded, “Because it looks good on college applications.” Also, there are many times when students only volunteer for this same reason.

        The idea of getting accepted to a college or university has redefined the meaning of education in our society. All I have to say is college better be worth all the time and work students put into getting accepted. How do you feel about the pressure to be academically superior? Also, do you agree that school is mostly about preparing for the next level these days? Feel free to comment your opinions!

Views: 536

Comment by Allison Tomal on October 18, 2011 at 7:14pm
This is so true! My parents have been on my back for weeks because they want me to do clubs for it to look good on my college applications. And taking classes that we aren't interested in is the worst thing ever. Plus, my parents don't even ask me what I want any more they just assume I will do things to make my college application look good. And most sophmores aren't even thinking about college yet. But great job Michelle! I really liked this. :)
Comment by Jose Gonzalez Castro on October 18, 2011 at 8:04pm

I agree  one hundred percent with this blog. I feel like people are being determined by their worry of being accepted in college. I must admit that I do take classes becuase they look good on college application, not necesarily because I like them. I try to keep myself balanced by actually joining extracuricular that I enjoy. I have never really given much thought to this, so I am happy that somebody brought it up.

Comment by Laura Smearman on October 18, 2011 at 8:40pm
Completely agree with this! Yeah it was so weird to have such freedom with our English assignments at first but now I like it. There are a handful of classes I'm only taking because it will look good on a college application.  And lastly, I agree; college better be worth it. haha. Good job! I liked this a lot.
Comment by Jessica Islas-Parker on October 18, 2011 at 9:13pm

I agrre with you Michelle. I wouldn't be taking history if I didn'd have to. But truth be told some nerds like me like to learn things. I like being in two languages, not just because it looks good on college applications, which it does, but also because I like having that knowledge of another language. I like being able to use those words we learn in english, it makes me feel smarter. For some people it has become a burden to learn but to those of us freakish people learning is fun. Beside the point. This is an excellent view on pressure highschoolers are under to do whatever they feel necessary to get into college. Is this something that burdens you?

Comment by Soumya Vhasure on October 18, 2011 at 10:12pm
I completely agree with this. It's actually a problem that's affecting other countries too. My mom showed me an article about students in India that weren't able to get into the top colleges there but were able to get into the Ivy League schools here not because American universities are inferior but because the competition in India is so high that it's raising the standard and "kicking students out", so to speak. There are many coaching centers in India that prepare students for the entrance exams that some schools have. Some students take the coaching so seriously that they are taking the places of some of the naturally talented students. Some colleges are so overwhelmed by the number of proficient applicants, they've issued cutoff scores that reached a near-impossible 100%! Some of the best colleges have a less than 2% acceptance rate! I think all this is CRAZY! People are taking studying and preparing to a whole new level all over the world, and I'm afraid that we'll never be able to go back to the simplicity of learning that existed even as recently as 100 years ago.
Comment by Michelle Baum on October 19, 2011 at 3:10pm
Jessica I'm glad you like to learn. I also like learning another language, but as for math equations, not so much. To answer your question I just feel that I, and others, will not need some of the information we are learning now in certain classes because is does not pertain to our career of choice. That is what mainly bothers me.
Comment by Jacquelyn Watson on October 19, 2011 at 5:00pm
I totally agree with you Michelle.  It's so frustrating to know that this is one of the only times in our life that we can almost completely choose what we want to do and we can't even do that anymore because we feel like we have to take certain classes.  I know that I have a lot of friends who can really only take maybe one class of their choice per year because all of the rest are for the "It looks good" reason.  It just seems silly that we are forced into classes we don't like and have never liked just to get considered by colleges that we might not even want to go to or get accepted to anyway.
Comment by Amy Maniola on October 19, 2011 at 5:33pm

I completely agree with this. The pressure to take hard classes and join every single extracurricular activity you can find has definitely increased a lot recently.  I usually notice this when talking to my extended family, many of whom didn't attend college.  Recently, my mom asked why I'm planning on taking AP Physics when I'm not particularly interested in physics as a career.  At first, I thought she was crazy, but now I'm starting to realize she has a point.  However, if you're like me and don't know what you're going to do with your life after high school (besides get into college, of course), it can be very difficult choosing which classes to focus on.  For instance, if I knew for sure that I didn't want a career involving math, maybe I would opt for an easier math class and push myself more in other classes. But if you don't have a specific plan, it's hard to pick and choose like that.  Anyway, I totally agree that college better be worth all the difficult classes and crammed schedules we have to deal with just to be accepted.

Comment by Morgan Johnson on October 19, 2011 at 7:09pm
Michelle, I think you basically said it all! You're completely correct. Sometimes I find myself thinking more about the future than just having a good time in high school and still doing good. Currently I'm taking APUSH,  yet I'm not a huge fan of social studies classes. An AP class would look great on my college resume so why not take the class? There are so many classes I'd like to take, yet they wouldn't help me at all in preparing for college. Therefore, I don't take them. Today is College night and my mom wanted me to go so badly. I kept telling her that I don't even know what I wanna be when I grow up. At this point in society, college is everything and you are taught its important to go ever since elementary school. My little brother is 7 and each classroom at his school is represented by a college. I think its insane that an elementary school is stressing over college when I don't even know where I want to go.
Comment by Sarah Bounab on October 22, 2011 at 9:25pm

Hi Michelle! I totally agree with your blog and I always feel like I'm in a race to be the best! There's always that pressure to take all honors classes and balancing school work and social events is very difficult. I also know a lot of people that cram their schedules with all these different AP classes that in the end they don't have room for 1 class they truly like!  I agree with you that school these days is mainly about preparing students for that " next level ".



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