Why the Definition of a “Good” School Needs to be Changed

Story by Sarah Flakus, Staff Writer

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Springtime is coming up, and although that leaves many people with the hope of a near future, others begin to feel a pit of dread in their stomach anticipating May 1st: the deadline for seniors choosing their colleges for the next four years. Because students feel so pressured to get into “good” colleges, instead of those where they would be most comfortable, the application process becomes one of the most stressful parts of high school.

Many of the top colleges in the country look for students to have a perfect 4.0, high SAT scores, family connections to the school, a challenging course load, and a stellar interview, and many people spend their whole lives trying to achieve these goals in order to get into a prestigious school. To accomplish this goal, parents have begun to hire help for their children. According to the Independent Educational Consultants Association, consumers in American spend $400 million on education consultants every year. These consultants help improve student’s SAT scores, write college essays, and generally make them look the best that they possibly can to colleges. If a parent gets their child one of these consultants, it suggests that they want their child to get the best test scores and get into an academically stellar school. This also suggests that academics are the only things to look for in a school- not things such as environment or location.

Parents also begin to hire these consultants from a young age. According to the article “The Overpressured Student,” which was published in the May 2011 edition of Educational Leadership, parents begin taking their children to tutors from the time they are in fifth grade, to the time that they commit to a college. Because these parents are hiring consultants from a young age, children are growing up with the idea that success is equated to the best quality school they can get into.

But what is a “good” college? Is it the Ivy Leagues? Is it those with the lowest acceptance rates? Many students and parents might say yes to those questions. However, a good college should be individual to each person and where they are most able to thrive. Bryant University freshman and SHS graduate Trinity Lennon describes how she came to choose her school. “There was always the pressure on me to get into a well-known college because those are really the only schools you hear about growing up. However, as I went through the process, I realized that it was more important for me to be comfortable and happy at my school than to have the status of going to a ‘better’ college,” she said.

Lennon realized that a school is “good” based on how it fits with the student. However, not many high schoolers have that realization during their four years. The pressures of college admissions are very intense and can consume students’ everyday lives, which is one of the biggest problems with high school today. After all, college takes up at least four years of one’s life, so it should be spent where he and she will be happiest, not where he or she feels they “should” go.

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