As our class of seniors begins our final chapter at CHS, it seems that whatever we do, wherever we go, we cannot escape a certain question, THE question, the six words every student dreads hearing: “Where are you going to college?”
For many of us, most of our waking hours are already consumed by preparation for collegiate life. As standardized testing, college essays and applications build on already packed schedules, it’s not hard to go a little insane. We know we are already feeling the effects, and we just got back to school.
The rising pressure that comes with the college search only exacerbates the problem of the hyper-competitive environment that exists within the walls of CHS. Clayton is notorious for its academic excellence. A large emphasis is placed on achieving a “4.0 GPA” and a perfect 36 on the ACT. Instead of going through high school as a student, ready to learn and explore, we are boiled down to a seemingly significant statistic that will supposedly determine the rest of our lives. But what’s the real reward for a number on a 10-cent piece of paper? Hopefully it’s more than a sticker. But the negative toll this hike to perfection takes on our physical and mental health doesn’t always seem worth it.
It seems that everything we do is to impress a certain college, not for our own benefit. When walking through the halls, phrases such as “this class will look great on your college application,” can be heard. What’s the point of taking a certain class if a college (that we probably won’t even go to) doesn’t care if I take it? The true purpose of the high school train, to learn, has derailed.
It’s at times like these when we think it’s important to think back to the old, extremely relevant (and cliche) adage: It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.
We still have a whole year of high school left, but in our eagerness to transition to college we rarely find time to stop and smell the roses. This is our last year at CHS, a place that has served to mold us into brighter students and better people. The skills we have learned and positive habits we have developed will benefit us far into the future. But when GPA becomes more important than this learning and self-development, when students lose sight of the ultimate goal of growing as a person, a problem emerges.
In our three years here, there have been ups and downs. We are writing from experience, as we know we have fallen victim to this desire for perfection multiple times before. And that is the moment when stress really starts to take over.
The solution? Stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself a few simple questions. If you are in high school just to get the grade, how will college be different? Are you ready to spend upwards of $50,000 a year on a GPA?
As we have realized over these formative years, the most important thing you can learn is just that: how to learn. As we are sure you have heard before, the college that you go to matters a lot less than what you do while you’re there, stepping out of your comfort zone to take advantage of opportunities and to make connections. And what better time to start getting uncomfortable than now?
Here’s to a year of learning just for the heck of it.