One faulty move and it’s all over


Trinity Cline-Smith

High school is stressful enough in respect of the precarious balance between homework, extracurriculars and sleep. However, when we’re constantly reminded of what is to come next and how important “now” is, it just adds to our anxiety. Most of us are not even old enough to vote, yet the American Education System wants us to decide what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives. Plus, you don’t have to look very far to realize that not all teachers are the same, in neither their techniques nor their grading. Therefore, some classes are harder simply because students can’t “play the school game.” In the end, a student’s entire future rides on their high school career; let that sink in for a minute.

If you look at honors or AP classes, it’s not hard to notice the pressure placed upon the students in those classes to do well, and the amount of homework given to them every night. Not to mention, if a student is taking more than one advanced class, the work is doubled, tripled, etc.. Homework can last upwards of three hours every night, and if students don’t turn it in, their grades drop significantly. I personally have been a victim of this. I have even, at some points, had so much homework that I had to prioritize and ended up only being able to get half of it done, meaning that for half of the homework I was given, I received a zero.

However, colleges don’t just look at grade point average. They also look at extracurriculars; how well-rounded you are as a student. If a university is looking at a pair of students and was to choose between a student with a higher GPA but no extracurriculars and another who has a lower GPA than the first, but is well-rounded, they would most likely choose the latter. High school students know this. That means we’re not only pressured to do well in school, but are also pushed to do multiple extracurriculars to look good in college’s eyes. All time is spent in or for school, and for what? Because nobody wants to end up working a minimum wage job at McDonald’s, not being able to  support themselves, let alone any family they may have in the future.

But even though universities and secondary schools would like students to be well-rounded, most, if not all, have a required minimum grade point average for acceptance. For example, at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, the average grade point average of admitted students is 3.64, with only a 27 percent admittance rate. Yes, students may be accepted with a lower than average GPA, if they either have excellent test scores, or many extracurriculars. But students’ admittance chances are stronger if  they have a higher GPA, which, as stated above, takes immense amounts of effort.

Also, more times than not, jobs require a college degree in order for them to even consider someone for a position. Granted, these jobs also make way more both hourly and yearly than those that do not, but some corporations also require more than even a bachelor’s degree to get into the field. For example, a physical therapist, a career in high demand of persons to go into that field, requires at minimum a doctorate level degree, which not only takes effort, but also pushes students to get better grades in order to get into a college that will allow them to study that long. True, however, not all jobs require a college degree, but as previously stated, these jobs don’t pay as much, and can end with the employees not being able to support themselves or their family. All of this resorts back to how well they did in high school, as a teenager, a baby in retrospect.

Teenagers, though we’d like to believe that we do, have hardly any real world experience or experience with life in general. Yet, the American Education System would like us to choose what we’re going to do with our lives at such a young age, and provides high consequences when standards aren’t met for those careers, lifelong consequences. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everyone needs extreme amounts of money to be able to survive or support their family, but it would be nice. Let’s be real, most people strive to have enough money to not only survive, but to live comfortably.

In all retrospect, one mistake made during high school can lead to a lifetime of downhill battles and ultimately a different, most times unfortunate future. Students are too pressured to think straight when they’re given more than three hours of homework every night and are pushed to do multiple extracurriculars on top of it. This can cause their grade point average to drop significantly and in turn could cause them to be worse-off in the end. If you look at it, school, and ultimately life, is like a game of chess: one faulty move and it’s all over.