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High School Shouldn’t Be All About College

Graphic by Gabrielle '15
Graphic by Gabrielle ’15

Many Marlborough School girls focus on the future too often. We sacrifice an additional two hours of sleep to study, enroll in extra AP classes and participate in extracurricular activities that do not interest us because we think that our transcripts need to look more impressive. At the same time, we are exceptionally competent at handling the stress we place on ourselves. We balance rigorous course loads with robotics, Model UN and the equestrian team, exhibiting time-management that would put Swiss railroad managers to shame.

Caught up in the frenzy to achieve future success, however, we forget our adolescence in the present. Although our academic maturity as Marlborough girls permits us to constantly challenge ourselves, we need to recognize that we are young girls who should also enjoy the now without straining ourselves with ambitions.

Each Marlborough girl should make conscious efforts to go to bed earlier. Deciding to go to sleep rather than work until 2:00 a.m. shows  respect for our health. We should not yield to the temptation to complete and perfect every assignment. By predetermining a time, 11:00 p.m., for example, to drop our pens or lift our hands off the keyboard, we accept that seven hours of sleep is worth a five point deduction from our homework grade. Consistently staying up until the night fades into the morning creates an unreasonable expectation to work at least 18 hours a day with only six hours of rest.

Each time a speaker suggests that teenage girls need at least nine hours of sleep per night, a scoff resounds throughout Caswell Hall at the possibility of an industrious Marlborough girl sleeping away over a third of the day. We need to adjust our overly-demanding standards. Instead of demonstrating a responsible sense of scholarly devotion, excessively late weeknights show a lack of perspective.

Course planning presents another opportunity for us to prioritize our day-to-day well-being over a college’s evaluation of us. We receive a chart that we fill with every course we plan to take over the course of our Marlborough careers, giving us the opportunity to challenge ourselves with a difficult curriculum. Sometimes, however, with the intent of setting ourselves on track to enroll in extraordinary classes in the future, we neglect to balance our workload during the next two semesters. As a result, the schedules which we may have determined with our eyes on the future can immediately overwhelm us. For instance, the selection of another elective for the sake of its reputation alone results in the loss of a free period. We should not regard extra blocks of free time during the school day as slackers’ indulgences, but rather as practical tools for balancing schedules. Planning for the future demonstrates maturity, except when the strategy’s tremendous stress compromises our welfare in the present.

We should take advantage of high school as a time to experiment with extracurricular activities that we enjoy, but we should not commit to any activity simply because it’s hyped as a college admissions favorite.  As we discover our interests, we should not tailor them to outside evaluators’ preferences. The perceived sophistication of, say, Intergalactic Robot Debate may attract some girls; however, the decision to participate in a different art or sport that interests them more shows a greater sense of self-awareness and maturity. We should not compromise our sense of self with the intention of  impressing someone else in the future.

With the constant drive toward college acceptances, anxiety can mount thanks to sleep deprivation, course-planning and extracurricular activities. We should not center our high school experience on admission to our next school. Otherwise, we may unfortunately look back on our time at Marlborough as wasted on future pursuits. During these six years, we should enjoy the present opportunity to pursue our own interests.