What High School is Really About

Kara Hoffman, Staff Writer

You are more than just a number. I hope somebody at some time in your life has told you a cliché aphorism like that. It was probably in reference to how unique and special you are as a person on this Earth. You are. I promise. However, the numbers that I’m talking about are the ones you see in high school. They’re your SAT scores, your GPA, your AP exam scores, and your class rank. They’re all of those zeros scratched in red pen over a question. They’re the numbers out of 100 that your parents look at when they open the letter from school. They’re important numbers, but honestly, your high school experience and your identity are worth just as much as them.

I’m not trying to disqualify the importance of succeeding in school. It’s important to challenge yourself and try to do the best you can in your classes. However, I will say that too much attention to grades can easily become an obsession that only leaves you with a colossal amount of pressure and stress. As a high school senior, I have too often seen myself, my friends, and my peers fall into the same trap. It’s something I like to call the college trap. We become so preoccupied with looking good for college admissions by getting good grades in challenging classes, receiving high SAT scores, and involving ourselves in a multitude of activities that we forget to “stop and smell the roses” of high school, so to speak. And rather than defining ourselves by things like our character and virtues, we begin to only find our self-worth in what college admissions counselors will think of us. That trap, I believe, is an awful one to fall into.

High school is supposed to be about finding yourself. It is supposed to be about trying new things and discovering what you like and dislike. It is meant to be a time of exploration, optimism, and hope for a bright future. Yet all too often, we think it is just about our grades. And that’s where we’re missing it. I don’t know about you, but my best high school memories were not when I got A’s on my tests. They were the times when I discovered what I loved to do and did it. For me, that was singing and performing. Maybe for you its lacrosse. Or German club. Or marching band. Or perhaps all three. But you didn’t know that you loved doing it until you made time for it and tried it.

Underclassmen, make time to do the things you love and to try new things, too. In retrospect, I know that I could have done a lot more in high school had I not been so concerned about my grades and how to micromanage all of my activities. Maybe I missed out on learning another facet of my personality because of that. I say, don’t take the risk that I did. Stop and smell the roses. Find out who you are and what you love. That, I believe, is a big part of what high school is all about. And don’t stress; B’s are ok every once in a while.