What You Never Learned In High School

What You Never Learned in High School
Welcome to a world full of sleepless nights, endless responsibilities, and
computerized solitaire. Welcome to the land where coffee beans reign and Vivarin rules.
Youve been here before. Sure you have
This may not be the case with everyone, but I know that when I was in high school, college was my ultimate dream. Unlike most of my peers, high school never held that special sentimental enchantment for me as it did for them. I didnt display any noticeable increase in school spirit during my final year out of respect for what would soon become my alma mater. For example, I didnt request a single person to sign my yearbook, I didnt order extra copies of the senior class picture to adorn the walls of every room I ever intend to occupy with, and not a single tear was shed at graduation. Spirit Week, a time of social union, pep rallies, and ridiculous clothing that was somehow meant to show support for a football team who hadnt won a section in over a decade, was looked upon with the usual apprehension, but with a sense of quiet anticipation. I was ready for the big time, college, where every day would be a new experience in freedom, and every night would be a new experience in alcoholism. It wasnt until I actually got to college that Reality decided to give me one of the swiftest kicks to the nether quarters that I have ever experienced in my life. I was finally in the Real World.

Throughout my years in public education, there always seemed to be someone to look after my best interests. There was always a mother or a father to wake me up for school on time, and to provide me with lunch money. They were always there to help me with my homework (until I reached about eighth grade and even they didnt have a clue), and, of course, to put me back in line when they thought I was out of it. There were always teachers who assured me that what they were teaching would be of endless value to me throughout the rest of my life, and would surely help me in college. Questions such as What does the child, Pearl, symbolize in Nathaniel Hawthornes novel, The Scarlet Letter? may very well be asked during a job interview someday, and that the Quadratic Formula would indeed become a part of my everyday life. Looking back now, it makes me wonder if they had ever actually been to college themselves.

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During my first semester of college, when faced with the fifty-seven hours of homework to be completed in forty-eight, or the first Calculus chapter that was undoubtedly a review for those students who had already completed a course in Pre-Calculus during high school (a chapter that made about as much sense to me as Arabic script); one question constantly reoccurred in my mind: When was I ever prepared for all of this? Throughout high school, the period of my life intended to orient more then any other around preparing me for college, the teachers who thought themselves to be lenient and considerate in their ways, were really depriving the student body of vital knowledge and experience.
Teachers never forced us into budgeting our time, they never pressured the students who really cared about their grades into asking for help by keeping a rigorous homework schedule, and tests were never first and final. While they were doing us a favor by grading on a curve, offering extensions for late reports, and allowing homework to be turned in late, they were really misleading us in one of the worst possible ways.

How many first semester college students would one think has spent countless nights staying up until four or five oclock in the morning trying to understand that last bit of Calculus? How many have gone over twenty-four hours without sleeping at all to finish that five page thesis that was assigned just four days ago along with a million other assignments? I speak from experience when I say that Ive had more sleepless nights engaged in such activities than I care to remember, or care to ever have again. Every teacher I had in high school was excellent in his or her own unique way, they taught the material to the best of their ability, and while some may have been a bit overbearing, they always made exceptions. Each individual instructor had at least an iota of sympathy for a student who was willing to try and therefore the occasional lenient alternative was given. All I am asking is for teachers to do their students a favor and be a little bit of a hard ass just once, if for no other reason than to allow their students a taste of what pursuing an education after high school is like.

I would be the first to recognize the consequences of such a controversial proposition as this. It may potentially insult the average high school teacher by critiquing his or her method of instruction. If a high school student ever read this, I would almost surely be beaten mercilessly by several masked assailants in some dark alleyway or parking lot. Just a few months ago I was a high school student, and knowing what I know now about college, I would have been exceedingly grateful for such an opportunity. Many a long lecture did I receive, courtesy of my parents, regarding the sad truth of what college life would truly be like, but I could never really appreciate it until I had experienced it for myself. College is not all fun and games. Learning that vital piece of information on your own is definitely not an easy task, but unless things change, the hard way is the only way that lesson will ever be learned.