During the past few months I have been asking members of the USCHS Class of 2012 what they have learned.
Standardized testing season was clearly on the minds of most, for I often received initial responses pertaining to derivatives and pieces of literature. Academics have been fun and all, but I was more curious to uncover the non-academic lessons that have been learned over the past four years.
Some of the lessons were practical. Many of my peers responded with what they have learned about time management, sleep and preparation. High school has forced many of us to accept the importance of time management, as failing to do so undoubtedly leads to caffeine-driven all-nighters. Fear of overnight cram sessions has reminded all of us the importance of being prepared ... and taking a note from our teachers when they give us multiple weeks to work on an assignment.
A majority of the other lessons, however, pertained to the social environment of high school. Like many of my peers, I watched Mean Girls prior to entering high school. I thought the dog-eat-dog world depicted on the big screen was exaggerated and completely unrealistic. After four years of teenage drama, though, the theatrical adaption of high school life is realistic and recognizable.
Another handful remarked that secrets never remain secret for more than 20 seconds, especially with social networking sites at our fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Others said that they have learned to rely and look out for their own backs because, in some situations, they have found themselves fighting on the battlefield of high school as lone soldiers.
The idea of independence was also echoed by the idea of learning to take charge of our futures. Whether this meant buckling down and drafting an impressive research paper or finding part-time jobs and extracurricular activities to establish early resumes, high school has been the time for many of us to start to take everything a bit more seriously. One step closer to real life—how simultaneously scary and exciting!
Thanks to all of the assemblies we have attended, the negative power of peer pressure has been realized. Yes, we have learned that falling into the influence of others can be detrimental to our dreams and aspirations, but we have also learned that such a powerful force can also be positive. Perhaps our friends encouraged us to pick up an art class or to find a new passion. High school has taught us that peer pressure is not always bad, and that it is sometimes the push we need to act boldly.
Advanced coursework taught many that the destination is nowhere near as important as the journey there (remember senior year is the perfect time for every cliché phrase to be put to use). Many of the school’s AP and honors courses have pushed us beyond any academic lessons with which we were formerly familiar. In these classes, we’ve written research papers of more than 20 pages, learned to speak and think in different languages, and solved dizzying mathematical equations. Above all, these classes reminded us what learning was really about—discovering new ideas, improving, and being challenged.
What have I personally learned throughout high school? Well, I have learned to always have a goal. Whether I am aiming to nail a writing assignment, make it through a half-marathon, or stand with my head held high in the halls, constantly striving to reach a goal each and every day has gotten me through high school.
Looking back at my experience and the lessons learned by others, high school seems to have succeeded in its purpose. We have learned—academically, socially and personally.