Pistol

David Levitsky

United States

Part time writer, full time learner and liver of life
Boston, Massachusetts
Tufts University

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Senior Spring: A Springboard into the Real World

March 21, 2016


Senior spring is NOT a time to slack off.  Contrary to the popular preconceived notion that after college acceptance, high school seniors can just “coast” for the rest of their senior year, a notion formed by pretty much every college aged friend I know and put down vehemently by panicked college counselors everywhere (no sources needed), I believe Senior spring should be a time to actively pursue passions and learning. While test scores and grades may no longer be an object of worry, keeping a motivated and driven work ethic throughout senior spring is crucial in preparing for a world where not everything is measured in metrics and marks.

The response I’d get from friends about my opinion would be, “grades don’t matter any more!” (1). Ironically, this kind of “relaxed” attitude reflects that in competitive high school culture that grows ever more cutthroat, nominal accomplishments are the goals to strive for (2). Filling a list with impressive marks, excellent test scores, and extracurriculars of every shape and size is what just about every senior wants to do, when applying to college (3). At my school,  there are kids that try to make up extracurricular clubs for anything they can think off. There’s been the Film Club, the Improv Club, and the “Good Music” club, to name a few. Now, I’m not against being independent and having the initiative to found a club, but the problem with said clubs I mentioned is that they don’t actually hold meetings. On a college app, they look nice and shiny, but in reality, the Film Club and the Improv Club and the “Good Music” club do not
exist. The substance, the actual work for these clubs is missing.

Students aim for the end goal, the destination, without being mindful of the process which will get them there. “Cram and Flush” is the new creed, the time efficient way to succeed. Now students read the SparkNotes summaries for class instead of the actual material. Now students learn the material for the test the night before, only to forget everything they’ve force-fed to themselves a week later. Now students see numbers and words without understanding what it is they are seeing. In this race to get the answers, the process of learning has been forgotten. So many high schoolers load stress and worry upon themselves, achieving success, but at a high cost. Mental health and wellbeing get compromised for grades on a report card.  So much emotional and psychological strain comes out of high school that once the goal is reached, once the college acceptance letter comes through, there’s nothing left to strive for, at least in the mind of a work-weary senior.We’ve been trained to check boxes, complete tasks set out before us, but once there are no boxes, once the tasks aren’t laid out neatly for us, we’ at a loss (4). Perhaps success is the most dangerous drug out there for high schoolers, with mindless work and identity struggles being the side effects (5). It’s scary to think that a high schooler could go through so many hoops without ever truly learning a thing.
    
High school has now become a dizzying and unrelentless ride towards college admission. It’s a long journey, and yet so many of us students are blind to the scenery on the way, the bigger picture of the world that lies just outside the window, with our eyes instead solely fixated on the destination of college. When the college acceptance is taken care of, I’m saying to open up to the world beyond high school. Senior spring might be the only chance when we are able to learn and perceive, rather than cram and flush. Don’t waste the opportunity. When we can recognize that the journey to our goals is what gives our goals meaning, then we can start to lead our own lives. When we can separate ourselves from the competitive culture of college admissions and strive for something more than checking boxes, we can learn as well as succeed. Find what you love, and ask why you love it. Maybe the answer to this question will lead to an enjoyable Senior Spring, and what’s more, an enjoyable life.



Bibliography

Deresiewicz, William. Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

"NYU Study Examines Top High School Students' Stress and Coping Mechanisms." NYU Study Examines Top High School Students' Stress and Coping Mechanisms. N.p., 11 Aug. 2015. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.


 
1.They technically do matter, however. To quote the Tufts acceptance letter for Early decision candidates, “Our offer of admission is made with the expectation that you will maintain the level of academic excellence and personal integrity that characterized your ED candidacy” i.e: keep your grades up!

2.This is in part fueled by parents, especially of private school students, who want to see returns on their years of paid tuition with in form of acceptance letters from Harvard, Princeton, and the like.

3. This is definitely driven by elite universities that many ambitious high schoolers apply to. Yale admissions officers visiting my school noted that breadth and depth of accomplishments in both academics and extracurriculars would be essential for admission. Students then rush to try and join every club and activity, and then become the leader of said club or activity. Instead of doing extracurriculars out of interest, students do them out of necessity.

4. An NYU study tracking student work coping mechanisms garnered responses such as “I lose the ability to function” and “I just don’t do anything”.

5.To quote William Deresiewicz, the author of Excellent Sheep, “Every A is a fix that temporarily quells the anxiety of failure, the terror of falling short”.



 

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