Why is high school not fun anymore? For me, the answer is the race to college. Do I submit my SAT scores? What should I write my essay about? Is my class rank high enough? And why is that girl taking five AP classes? Why was I asked about my PSAT score by some random guy who knows he has a better score than I do? Does that really matter?
As I’m writing this, I am entering the fifth week of junior year. (Well known as the hardest year of high school). I thought I would figure this out later in the year, maybe during the second semester with AP tests and the SAT. On my second day of AP Chemistry, former AP Chem students came into the class to talk about how to get through the course; one student said she was shaking after the first test because it was so hard; another said he had never been more confused than in that class. While this might sound crazy, that didn’t bother me. I love chemistry and even though thinking about the workload is stressful, five weeks in and I am still excited about the class. However, while this hard class isn’t so bad, some of my other classes are. Honestly, I’m taking one class partly because it’s interesting, but mostly because seniors and alumni told me I should and that it “looks good for college”. I wish I could say I don’t fall into the trap of just taking classes because they’re hard, and usually, I don’t, but in the high school culture we deal with today it’s almost impossible not to. My counselor Ms. Behmke said that while she,“ hopes that people take classes they are curious about rather than what other people are doing,” she is “concerned that it is becoming more common to take what kids think will look good on their transcript.” This could not be more true. I would love to take only classes that I'm interested in and even though for the most part I do, I wish I had the courage to take more, but I’m scared and won’t be able to compete with my peers.
While taking classes that feed your soul, rather than fulfill a requirement is partly on the onus of the student, it is also a product of our rigged education system. When asked about how fair class rank is at East, Ms. Behmke said that “For sure if you take draw paint one and two it is extremely difficult and almost impossible to be in the top ten.” Mr. Hudson also added that if a student did not take Speech and Debate their freshman year, they were most likely not going to be in the top ten as their elective would not be weighted. This is excluding talented students from getting recognition as taking Speech and Debate doesn’t make someone smarter than people who don’t; however, this situation demonstrates the academic pressure on High school students today.
Class rank shouldn’t matter, it’s not a measure of intelligence, but a game of credits. Should we allow this to continue?