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High School is Not a Four-Year College Audition

Cartoon by Gina-Gail Auslander
Cartoon by Gina-Gail Auslander

This attitude is harmful because high school offers so many unique, formative experiences. In order to benefit from this time of unparalleled personal growth, students should not allow the process of shaping a polished college application persona to supplant the process of self-discovery.

High school is an ideal time to pursue budding interests. South offers several sports and countless clubs—which range from the Academic Team to World Languages—that allow students to both explore emerging passions and develop important skills. Students can even propose new clubs if none of those offered serve their interests. However, many students primarily view these activities as opportunities to boost their resumes, engaging in what might appear most impressive rather than what appeals to them most.

College mania’s ubiquitous presence in high school also affects course selection. South offers a wealth of options for electives. Students can choose classes in all areas from art to business and technology. Unfortunately, some may be dissuaded from enrolling in courses that could expand their horizons or stir their passions if doing so would prevent them from scheduling another Advanced Placement class. For many, high school transcripts have become trophy cases for APs instead of road maps for academic exploration.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, identity development is a milestone of adolescence; teenagers make crucial strides in developing their personalities and opinions. Students deny themselves this transformative experience when they prioritize college acceptance over self-knowledge.

As students, we need to reevaluate the purpose of high school. Weiss wrote, “Colleges tell you, ‘Just be yourself.’” Though, as she attests, this does not guarantee acceptance to every college, it turns out to be very sage advice.

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