Work harder. Push yourself. What, that's it? Wow, you literally can't do anything. You're useless, you got a 91 on that math quiz. Look at that kid taking 10 APs, while you are here taking just two APs. You'll never make it to college. You're a failure.
I regret every day of this school year.
This year has been more than an emotional rollercoaster; it's been eternal hell. And I'm only a freshman in high school. It shouldn't be like this. Right? But, why is it that I feel this way? And almost every freshman I know has shared similar feelings with me.
The worst part is, even though I worked my hardest and accomplished all this — maintained straight A's, completed two igeAPs, made my school's IGEM team, semi-finaled in two national debate tournaments, became sophomore president, was in String Orchestra, ran track and won at SLC for HOSA — it feels like I have done absolutely nothing, that I have wasted every day of school year.
I feel empty.
I was on a hamster wheel, running, running, getting exhausted, but I continued to run and got no where. Because, that's what I thought successful people did. They worked their butts off until they succeeded. They would not accept anything below their goals. And they were able to sacrifice everything to achieve anything. But these are lies. Lies. Plain bold lies.
This is not what successful people do. This is what stupid people do. And tell me I'm wrong. Being valedictorian is no longer about who worked the hardest and got academic success; it's about whose family is wealthier and can afford to pay for those online classes. I can tell you lists of people that are smart and talented but they are always undermined by the "finessers."
I vividly remember talking to the recent graduating class, and they all told me the same thing, "High school is a lot of fun." But, is it really? When the trend is to take more APs, you beg your parents to pay for more APs. And I'm not saying more APs is wrong. But, some point, we're all going to snap and burn-out. No one can survive off of two to three hours of sleep everyday as high school freshman.
Imagine the years to come. Is it really worth sacrificing our health for our class rank?
And because of the lack of collaboration and an increase in competition, people like me live in anxiety everyday confused about what to do. Do I take more APs so I don't fall behind everyone and sacrifice my extracurriculars and my passions? Or, do I focus on what I want to do and fall behind?
And at this point, it's becoming no longer a high school but a survival show where everyone has the mindset, that there is only one winner.
And it's not the school that caused this. This is student lead. Each student isn't pushing themselves because they want to learn but because they want to get into a good college. They do this out of fear, not passion. And that's crucial because it ruins the purpose of taking advance placement classes.
Taking online APs is a lot easier than taking it in class. It's easier to "finesse" the system. When one student takes an AP online, this causes 10 other kids to take two APs online. Then 10 more kids taking three APs. It causes a snowball effect, and it destroys collaboration. It dramatically increases pressure levels.
It's no longer, "I will be the best I will become," but more about "I have to become better than that other kid."
The worst part is... is this what really colleges want? By the time the class of 2021 graduates, the average GPA would be above 4.0, guaranteed. But, all this hard work, will it lead to nothing? In the next three years, will we become so caught up on taking APs and competing in stuff for the sake of college that we will lose our individuality? I want to try photography, and I truly think I'll enjoy it. But, I'll never get to do it. Because...
A) I don't have enough time, and...
B) I will be wasting time and could be do something more "valuable."
If you look in the dictionary, the definition of valuable is "a thing of great worth." Is it of value that you lose your individuality to become a better "competitor?" Is it worth that you risk your health and social life to take more APs? More importantly, do you wanna win that competition for that college application or for yourself?
I'm going to get huge backlash and every try-hard kid is going to hate me. I'm not telling to not to your achieve your goals. But find value in why you want to achieve that goal.
By taking this AP or entering that competition, how will this help you grow as a person or make you happy? Work hard for yourself, not for your resume. In fact, if we continue to work for college, and not for us, this toxic environment will make us into homogenous people. We'll all be AP snakes that are so-called "perfect" for colleges.
This problem didn't come from the school system or parents. But it comes increasingly from the students themselves. Teachers and my family have warned me to find balance. To love what you do until you can do what you love. Be a smart and humble competitor.
Because I was blindfolded, I now feel lost. I've wasted an entire year doing things people expected me to do and few things I actually wanted to do. I've lost so many opportunities because I didn't simply have time. And if freshman year is this bad, imagine junior year.
This is a message for individuals like me. Don't worry. All is well. Don't follow of what others expect of you, but do what you want to do.
Love what you do so much, that you don't feel irritated.
By the time we graduate, the number game will be over. It will be who is the best individual. Our generation is going towards quantity over quality, and that's going to lead to our failure. Mass production of defective machines is no better.
I know nothing may change after this article. But I can change me and the perspective I have of high school. I'm not going to live in this eternal hell where I'm forced to do stuff for the sake of a good college. Because if anything...
"No one has ever changed the world by doing what the world has told them to do." — Eddy Zhong