Graduating senior reflects on the “High School Malaise”
May 26, 2011
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Last year, my parents gave me two options: take the GED (General Education Development) exam and go to community college for two years before transferring into a four-year university or continue at CCHS for another year and take my chances in the college application process. To be honest, finishing high school one year early was tempting; my best friend and I joked that there was no need to “prolong the agony” and that we should “just get it over with” by passing the GED exam.
Needless to say, I came back for one last year of high school. I decided to finish my high school education for a number of reasons – most of my social life revolved around CCHS and I enjoyed being in involved in extracurricular activities, namely El Cid. However, not until my aunt told me she regretted ditching her own high school graduation did I make the conscious decision to endure my last year.
For those us who are not members of the Prom Court, star athletes, or at the center of the social scene, high school is pure tedium. While the tragic Alfred Prufrock measured his life in spoonfuls of coffee, I counted my four years of high school in colored pens, notebook paper, oversized textbooks, and scantrons. There is nothing exciting about sitting in a chair while being lectured seven hours a day, five days a week. Turning in homework and taking tests is hardly an adventure.
While most view junior year as the most challenging academically, senior year is the most stressful and challenging in terms of balancing college applications, school, and social activities. Beginning in July, relatives and friends were persistently asking, “Where do you want to go to college?” or “What are your career plans?” At that point, I had yet to start applying, and I was too busy with my nose buried deep in a book for the past three years to notice the real world passing by.
Though I was fairly successful, the college application process was a sheer nightmare. I enjoy writing, but after having to answer the “Why do you want to attend our school?” prompt over and over, I could not help thinking this question was just another way for the schools to validate themselves in the midst of skepticism about the value of higher education. Between taking multiple standardized tests in the fall, almost missing application deadlines, one college I applied to losing a recommendation, getting deferred and then wait-listed at my dream school, and having less than 24 hours to make the decision to withdraw from one school 500 miles away to go to said dream school 2,000 miles away, saying the college application process is stressful is a true understatement. Despite the heartache, conflict, and anxiety I experienced this past year, I do not have a single regret.
Even though high school never really grew on me, it served its purpose. During my four years at CCHS, I made close friends and met a lot of interesting people; cultivated my interests, both social and academic; received a stellar education; but most importantly, I gained a sense of personal identity and a calling to always question.
I believe my sense of malaise towards high school is not unique to CCHS or me. If I had gone to a different school, I would most likely be writing the same editorial for a different newspaper. Even though I feel that high school is best described as an institution one endures, Cathedral Catholic is most certainly a cut above most other high schools. The caliber of teachers and the loving faith-based community make our school stand out. I will always be grateful for the sacrifices my parents made to send me here and the opportunities I was given.
As I finish this whirlwind journey of high school and the college application process, I cannot help feeling this is just the beginning. In the end though, were my four years at CCHS worth it? Absolutely.