Stop Shaming Me For Caring About My Academic Future

Stop Shaming Me For Caring About My Academic Future

There's different kinds of education, and academics is just one of them.
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Nowadays, we're in a day and age of open-mindedness. More and more people, as the days go by and technology becomes much more advanced, are beginning to realize that traditions aren't holding; the original orthodox ways of going about things aren't sticking, and truth be told, they aren't working. College, and more importantly, education in general, is one of these areas of social advancement. Nowadays, people are realizing that the fool-proof "getting your high school diploma and then attending the mandatory four years of college" mold isn't one size fits all after all. Now that people are valuing the creative side of things, like working in the film industry and pursuing artistry, as well as athletics, the idea of college has acquired a certain connotation with it, despite what one's major is. And now, parents have started to specialize their kids from a young age: will my child end up attending college, then med school, and become a doctor, or will my kid end up attending art school?

All of this is fine and good. Arts and athletics are certainly something that should be valued and rewarded for among children, just as much as academics are. However, issues arise when everything starts to blend together. For example, the high school I attended is a strict science charter school, and heavily emphasizes academics and the like. As a result, many students ridicule the school for not offering enough arts and athletics and such; in fact, parents of children who attended the adjoining elementary school accused the school of being "too academic."

See, this is the problem: if you're attending or affiliating yourself with an education or organization that heavily concentrates itself in one area of study, or in a certain specific way, why do you shame the organization for being that way even if you knew it was that way in the first place?

Don't get me wrong, I totally get it. Every school should have offerings in every academic subject; this is a given. But when you attend a science school, especially a school that is renowned for its academics, why are you upset when its focus is, oh what a surprise, academics? I mean, my high school did have arts and athletics for those who craved them, but they weren't the focus because, lo and behold, it was a science school, that did science things!

I'm sorry, but the problem doesn't lie with the school--the problem lies with YOU.

This doesn't just go for schools. This goes for the concept of education in general. When one goes into the world of academia, one has to know that it's not easy. It's very much difficult, and involves a lot of studying. And when you commit yourself to pursuing such a path, you can't just say that you won't do it. You knew about it, you accepted it, and so you must keep on keeping on. That's what I did, and my high school allowed me to do just that by successfully giving me the arduous academics I needed to thrive at a top-twenty university. So why do you jeer at me when I defend such an institution, just because I followed and fully support their methods of education?

Moral of the story: if you don't agree with it, then just leave. There are thousands of educational institutions in the United States. Maybe my high school, or high schools like it, didn't cut it for you. I'm sure there's a school out there that will. But when you mock an education that you don't agree with just because of the way it is, the education is not in the wrong; you are.












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Rejection Does Not Determine Your Worth

Getting rejected from something you've wanted can be a huge learning experience for all.
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We’ve all been there. You’re waiting to hear back about a great opportunity, such as an internship, a job, or an engaging role on your campus ...and you don’t get what you’ve been hoping for. When we are faced with rejection, it can be easy to assume it’s because of us. Maybe you’d think, “What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I get it?”

Being confronted by rejection may be one of the hardest things to face in college.

You enter into the world of your campus believing that all of these amazing possibilities exist, but then you discover that you aren’t going to get the chance to participate in these opportunities. Getting a letter or an email not knowing whether you have been accepted or rejected can seem daunting. Something as small as one email could seemingly ruin your whole day.

Although rejection can definitely be tough to face, it doesn’t determine the value or worth that you have as a student, a child, an employee, or a member of the community. It could simply mean that the other contestants have better credentials or seemed to fit more into the role, but rejection does not result because of who you are as a person.

I have had my fair share of rejection emails, especially in college. I check my email again and again, and I am constantly refreshing the page because of one email. This waiting seems to have consumed all of my time for a short bit. When that email FINALLY comes, I can be excited to open it, only to have this excitement crushed by the rejection that I have just been faced with.

When this happens, it can seem easy to be upset, and maybe even to cry. Letting out your emotions and allowing yourself to feel is an important part of the human experience that can often be looked over because we always want to “keep our cool.” To this, I say that you’re allowed to be upset. You’re allowed to feel crushed or heartbroken.You’re allowed to be human.

When the initial feelings have passed, think about what has just happened to you. You may have just gotten rejected from only one of the opportunities that exist…when there’s so many more! You are more than just a rejection letter; don’t let one answer bring you down for good. Keep applying, and keep getting your name out there!

Being rejected doesn’t always have to solely be a negative experience; it can also be one where people are able to learn and further their personal growth. When you are rejected, you do not lose value. You are still worthy of all that is good, and you are allowed to feel as a result of your experience.

Rejection does not equal your value.

You may be disappointed at the moment, but there are good things in store for you in the future. Don't ever give up on yourself.

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Education Reform Is, And Has Always Been, About Money, Not Learning

Education should not be a competition; the children of America should all receive an excellent education, with no losers.
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You hear it all the time: The American school system is failing! We can’t compete on a global scale! What if I told you that this was a lie that was intended to privatize the American school system to financially benefit those making the laws? Through this false narrative of failure, federal education reformists have lined their pockets to the detriment of the schools who need the money the most.

First, we must tackle the idea that education reform like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top set schools up to look like failures. The goal of No Child Left Behind was to have 100% of students achieve proficiency in math and reading by 2014. This is an admirable goal, but it was setting schools up for failure – it is simply impossible for 100% of students to be proficient.

Between students who are developmentally delayed, ESOL students, and students who just don’t care to learn, the goal of 100% proficiency was impossible. And it was designed to be because if people thought that schools were doing well they would never approve of a plan that funneled public funds into the private sector. Having a “failing school system” instilled a panic in the American public that their children are attending schools that are not educating them. This is the kind of panic that makes people act without scrutinizing the solutions.

How do we know our schools aren’t failing? According to The National Assessment of Educational Progress (the only consistent measure of education that we have in the United States), both reading and mathematics scores have improved steadily and significantly since 1992. We know that this is most likely not due to No Child Left Behind because the steepest increase (greatest improvement each year) happened before its implementation.

Likewise, the number of students who score below basic is decreasing, and the number of students who score proficient or advanced is increasing.

But what about on a global scale? Ever since the launch of Sputnik, the American people have come to fear inferiority in terms of global achievement. The good news is that American schools are doing better than the international average! According to the results of the 2011 TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), the average score for students on the math section placed the United States in the top 25 countries, and in the top 24 for science.

So what do lawmakers have to gain? Take into consideration the director of Race to the Top competition, Joanne Weiss. Before she was the director of the competition, she was the Chief Operating Officer at NewSchools Venture Fund, an organization that gives money to “education entrepreneurs” (read: people who make money off of students and schools).

Next, according to Joanne Race to the Top was meant to increase economic activity and encourage the creation of markets for profit and non-profit organizations. She openly wrote that the so-called “education reform” was intended to stimulate the private sector, but people still believed that this was the best solution for fixing (an unbroken) education system.

So, what’s the problem? The biggest problem is that nobody did any studies on how Race to the Top or No Child Left Behind would affect the quality of education in the United States. We as a country subjected our children to these untested programs in response to our fear that we were failing them. We left our children in the hands of companies that only care about their bottom lines.

Additionally, the method of forcing “underperforming” schools to compete by reducing their funding is creating a problem. The schools most likely to underperform are schools in low socioeconomic status neighborhoods – schools that already don’t have money due to the way that public schools are funded. Some of these schools do not have the money for licensed teachers, computers, pencils, or other necessities. Taking away the funding to encourage them to “compete” cripples them further, and in some cases, schools are even closed for underperforming!

The school voucher system is also problematic, especially if vouchers are usable at for-profit charter schools. The idea of vouchers is enticing, parents being able to use the money that the state is already paying to educate their child at a school of their choosing.

But here’s the problem: parents with the resources to drive their children to a better school outside will take these vouchers to “better” (generally wealthier) schools and away from the schools that need them. And the parents who do not have these resources (generally poorer) are stuck with their children in schools that had funding issues, to begin with.

For-profit charter and private schools are not all bad, but the fact that a corporation can make profits off of the money that the government sets aside for educating children is a little weird, especially when you consider that charter schools are not often regulated or held to the same standards as public schools. Another thing to consider is that some of the vouchers are being used at private religious schools, which blurs the line between separation of church and state.

The recent changes to our education system that began under the false pretenses of a failing public school system have been an underhanded way to stimulate the economy and privatize our schools. And these movements are not headed by educators, but by businesses who know nothing about how their programs affect student accomplishment. Race to the Top and No Child Left behind have morphed education into a competition. And the driving force of education should not be competition – the children of America should all receive an excellent education, with no losers.

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