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!