You must learn to overlook collegiate expectations and accept other people’s unique preferences.
It is common for students, particularly seniors, to hear phrases such as “You want to go there? Isn’t that just a party school?” or “You got into this school? You must be really smart.” People form opinions about certain schools that negatively affect their views about the people attending them. For some, the notion that not all people attend a university seems inconceivable. You must create a positive and nurturing environment for your peers. You need to open your mind to new ideas, even if they don’t reflect your own.
It is completely normal to set goals and expectations for yourself, but you shouldn’t let your aspirations influence the decisions of others. According to Post Secondary Counselor Michelle Vázquez, peer, societal and parental pressure can seriously damage a person’s self-confidence. Students utilize a form of bullying when they brag about their own achievements or make rude remarks about other students’ post-high school plans.
Not only is such behavior unkind, but it is also unnecessary. People must learn to embrace each other’s differences. What might be the “right path” for one person may be unsuitable for another. While some perform well under the competitive nature of “elite” schools, others prefer schools that are less competitive.
It is essential that people take different routes in order to fill different careers. People should have the freedom to pursue their own form of success, whether it be majoring in law, seeking apprenticeships in craft, serving the county as a marine or earning a BFA in technology and design.
It is also important to note that the track a student takes after high school does not determine the end result of that person’s career. For example, a graduate from a state college may end up in the same workspace as an alumnus from an Ivy League school.
According to the Wall Street Journal’s article Do Elite Colleges Lead to Higher Salaries? Only for Some Professions, while a diploma from a prestigious school can boost future income in certain fields, in other fields there is no proven difference. There is no guaranteed position in the workforce for any college student and no guarantee that students from lesser-known schools won’t achieve their greatest aspirations.
With many different directions for students after they graduate from ETHS, it is counterproductive for anyone to judge those who don’t choose one of the cookie-cutter courses they envision. Next time, before you make a snap judgment of your peer’s plan, consider the positive aspects of this person’s future.
If you’re on the receiving end of harmful criticism, remember why you made the choices you did and be confident in your decisions and the fact that you can find success in myriad of ways. You will continue to make self-discoveries after high school and throughout the rest of your life. If you base your decisions off other people, you may be limiting potential growth.
Gap years, liberal arts, double majors, military service, community service, music conservatories… the list goes on. Students must appreciate individuality and understand that it isn’t what you do; it’s what you make of it.