For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Jun 01 2016
by Jennifer Fanning

Why Private High School Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be

By Jennifer Fanning - Jun 01 2016

“Why do some of you hate [high school] so much?”, my friend texted to our Facebook group chat the other day. It’s an interesting question. Honestly, up until now, I kind of assumed that everyone hated high school as much as I do. But never before had I really thought of why that feeling of dread looms inside me every time I pull my black Range Rover into the tiny parking lot of my fancy rich-kid private high school. I probably have the least school spirit of anyone I know, and trust me, I’m very vocal about my dislike of walking through those green double doors every morning into a sea of half-asleep sixteen year olds with their faces stuck between the pages of a geometry textbook.

Let me begin by stating that almost every single stereotype of rich private school kids is true. We’re snobby, we’re entitled, we shop at Vineyard Vines and we have a lot of opportunities handed to us. I could go on a liberal rant about how income determines opportunity, but I’ll refrain for the sake of relevance. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m probably one of those snobby rich kids. I complain about school food, about getting a B+ on an assignment and I’m definitely guilty of calling my 2007 Range Rover Sport shitty. However, I clean up after myself. I don’t leave dishes laying around the cafeteria for the kitchen staff to pick up. I don’t spill food and leave it for the maintenance staff to clean up. But others do. The air of entitlement is appalling. The lack of consideration, and the leftover cereal bowl on the table, is frankly disgusting. Of course, not everyone is like this. I’d be lying if I said that there aren’t good eggs who say thank you to the cooks and pick up after other students. I appreciate them. They’re my friends.

But the rich-kid culture, though infuriating, is not the only reason I’ve come to dread going to school. For anyone who couldn’t guess, private school is a pressure cooker. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stayed up until three in the morning writing an English paper or doing research for a physics lab. And who says I’m not prepared for college? But anyway, the workload is absurd. Teachers are allowed to assign up to an hour of work per night, per class. Now, when you take five classes, what does that add up to? Yep. Five hours of work. And sometimes it’s more like four hours, or two or three if I don’t do a few assignments. How does this encourage students to learn? I’ve found that making something a chore doesn’t exactly inspire enthusiasm. And with so much work and such a huge emphasis put on getting into a prestigious Ivy League university, the students only focus on one thing: grades. This turns into: “How can I get this work done in the least amount of time possible and still get an A?” It defeats the purpose really.

Oh, and the list goes on. I live an hour away from my high school. I wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 every single morning. This, of course, didn’t allow for much of a social life. Between schoolwork and commuting, I definitely felt a little isolated among my peers who mostly live within twenty minutes of the school. Actually, I went to my first high school party two days ago. I remind you: I’m a senior. I never realized how entertaining drunk high schoolers were. But of course, I had to drive an hour to get home, and at 1:30 in the morning that’s about the last thing I wanted to do. Of course, I stayed completely sober – don’t drink and drive, kids. Still, even as I finally felt somewhat integrated into my grade, I was torn away by the distance.

But as I look back on the things I’ve achieved and the people I met, it’s a little bittersweet. Memories aren’t so easily erased, y’know. Yeah, sure, there are some people I’ll be very happy to leave in the rear view mirror of my Range Rover, but then there are some whom I want to stay in the passenger seat alongside me as we drive through this highway called life. I’ve made life-long friends in high school. I fell in love for the first time. I paraded around in four separate prom dresses. I found a family. I found a life. I found a home. And now, two weeks from today, I will be walking across a stage in the gymnasium, accepting a little piece of paper that’s supposed to represent an entire four years of love, stress and tears. It’s strange. It’s sad. It feels almost wrong. I mean, at the end of the day, I hate high school, but how am I supposed to leave when I’ve built so much? But life moves on, and it will move on without me if I let it. I’m happy to go, but through the cheesy goodbyes, the “thank God we made it" exclamations and the promises to visit, I’ll leave a little piece of me in those halls, in that gym and in that lot. 

Lead Image Credit: Lovincat via Flickr Creative Commons

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Jennifer Fanning - Wellesley College

Jennifer is an incoming student to Wellesley College's Red Class of 2020 who intends to double major in Political Science and Psychology. Outside of class, Jennifer is an avid equestrian and her favorite reading genre is Science Fiction/Fantasy.

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