Students vs. The American School System

by Siobhan Vibiana 2 years ago in student

Here's where it all starts. It's you vs. everyone else.

Students vs. The American School System

Okay, so everyone knows that school is intended to be a place where education and learning happens, it's supposed to be a place where children discover what they want to be when they grow up, it's supposed to be a place to prepare you for reality. Not in America!

In America, school is a place where people are expected to follow the status quo to the T at the expense of unnecessary stress, expectations, and psychological peer pressure. I'm at that stage where people are asking "where do you want to go for college?," "what classes are you taking?" "what do you want to do after college?"

The glorious junior year of high school, where even your friends and classmates are secretly judging you on where you're going to college, what you're planning on majoring in (and not having a major is a no-no), and what you're planning on doing after college (and if you don't know, that automatically makes you a high school dropout, a future gas station attendant). It's merely a form of competition that either elevates your ego or depletes it in one go, and it's exhausting to keep up. It's not just the fact that it's a competition. No, competitions in general are a necessary part of life that gives a person knowledge, skills, and credibility. However, it's the fact that sometimes its a competition for something that you don't want, it's merely something that you fight for because society tells you to.

The American School System in a nutshell.

Sometimes, it's not even a competition. It's merely being compared to someone who is consistently better than you. Everything is graded and measured with tests and GPA's and it's beyond stressful, especially when parents and friends are breathing down your neck, "what did you get on this test?" "what did you get on the ACT/SAT?" "what's your GPA?" When you do give in, and reveal your average or somewhat below/above average score, it's even more embarrassing when they say, "what a good score!" Reveal their score (which is significantly better than yours), and chalk it up to "luck," when in reality, they preen with superiority simply because they can. If we're talking about expectations, this is where reality kicks in and says that a 70 is an average score, but because of your peers, heaven forbid that you get less than a 90 (because, to be honest, your chances of getting into a college drops significantly with anything less than an 80).

And why are you taking the course again? Because it either

  1. Looks good on college applications.
  2. Is something that you need for a career that you may not want to do but only do it because society tells you it's a respectable career.
  3. Is required to get that fancy advanced diploma (that also looks good on college applications, but ultimately is useless and further limits the amount of courses you can take that actually interest you). In fact, theoretically it's not even a subject that you enjoy, merely one of those classes that you need to take so that you can graduate, and yet you're still getting rated and judged on your performance.

I'm not offering solutions to these problems, but I would like to shed some light on matters that sometimes goes unnoticed by colleges. These copious amount of stressors should always be considered by colleges and universities; that is, until the school system changes and allows more freedom for course selection and development of creativeness instead of promoting the idea of "good" and "bad" grades and career choices. For example, a lot of students are conditioned to believe that having a major in art is useless and a waste of time. If you say that you have a degree in art, people are going to give you The Look. But when applied correctly, and art major could land an incredible job in company designs, architectural design, the list goes on and on. It's a real shame that the American school system is so constricting and limiting.

The bright side of this, is that the school boards are trying to address some of these issues. For example, super scoring SAT results are a great attempt at increasing a students chances of getting into a nicer college and boosting a students overall confidence. Some colleges are lowering their expectations and broadening their sights on a students life, not just their GPA and SAT/ACT score. But it has room for improvement. There are so many factors that dictate someones worth, and the school system in America doesn't even account for half of it.

Siobhan Vibiana
Siobhan Vibiana
Read next: The Unconventional College Life
Siobhan Vibiana
See all posts by Siobhan Vibiana