by Kate Hinsche
The Harvard Graduate School of Education, in partnership with a myriad of schools that includes MIT, UC Davis, and the University of Chicago, recently released a report entitled “Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions.” The comprehensive report discussed the negative impacts on children and society of how the current college admissions process functions. The contemporary culture emphasizes individual achievement over community mindedness and empathy, as well as promoting oneself rather than focusing on how to better the world in which we live. This central idea has resulted in major disadvantages for lower income students and high rates of anxiety and depression related to academic performance among affluent students. The report made recommendations and set goals to level the playing field for students of any race, gender, creed, and financial standing. It envisions a world in which college admissions incentivise ethical, intellectual, and emotional development throughout high school rather than competitive achievement.
Unfortunately, the measures suggested by Turning the Tide are unlikely to be integrated into college admissions for decades. In the meantime, we are left to cope with the effects of a broken system. LGHS students, regardless of if they themselves come from low or high income families, live in an affluent community. We have access to numerous AP classes, resources for SAT and ACT preparation, tutoring services, and volunteer opportunities.
The current mindset is that in order to succeed, and with success defined as going to a reputable four year college, a student has to take on as many of these activities and opportunities as possible. We push ourselves to the breaking point, thinking that is what colleges want to see in a student. We forget that all of our work means nothing if we achieve “success,” go to college, but then realize we can’t function as healthy human beings.
I don’t know a single person who gets a healthy amount of sleep, exercise, food, or fun during the school year at LGHS. Although it is irrefutable that the pressure to live and work the way students do trickles down from college admissions, we as students need to recognize our role in allowing this to happen, as well as our potential to change the situation.
Students have the capacity to say no to this lifestyle, but do they have the willpower? It is scary to go against the status quo, to challenge what peers, teachers, and parents believe leads to success.
As individuals, we should re-asses our lives every so often. Taking some time to analyze why it’s been three months since you got a full eight hours of sleep in one night might result in re-evaluating all of your activities. In reality, most people only have two or three activities they want to sacrifice mind and body for, but tend to do so for five or more. We should take the responsibility to do what truly interests us. That goes for clubs and AP classes. Implementing the suggestions made by Turning the Tide into our own lives will speed up the process of changing college admissions nationwide, and allow us to lead healthy, happy lives.