I have a friend–let’s say her name is Katie–who is a few years ahead of me in school. She’s in college now, at a prestigious liberal arts college in the midwest. She’s doing quite well according to her parents–getting good grades, making friends. Katie’s smart–very smart–and a championship cross country runner. In 6th grade, Katie applied to Marlborough, and she got in. However, the School couldn’t provide Katie and her family with the financial assistance they needed to send Katie to Marlborough. Her parents negotiated repeatedly with the School’s admissions office and managed to get the tuition down a little. Still, it wasn’t enough.
Katie enrolled at Notre Dame High School in the San Fernando Valley, where she rose quickly to the top of her class and became captain of the cross country team. A few years ago, Katie came out as lesbian. She found it increasingly difficult to fit in at Notre Dame, a Catholic school, because homosexuality was taught to be a sin, a crime against God. She also revealed that the day she shadowed at Marlborough was the day that the Gay-Straight Alliance club spoke at ASM, and she often pondered how different her high school and coming out experiences would have been had she been able to attend Marlborough.
Katie’s experience has taught me something priceless: never take the Marlborough experience for granted.
I’m as fierce a critic of some of the School’s policies as any, but at the end of the day, I recognize how incredibly fortunate I am to attend an institution like Marlborough. Yes, I often find myself complaining how hard it is to meet guys because I go to Marlborough, and, yes, I sometimes resent the ultra-competitive atmosphere and muse about how much better my life would be if I went to a different school. But, for Katie’s sake, I make an effort to stop myself before I say I hate the school, or I want to transfer, because I know I don’t really mean it. The education we Marlborough students receive is all but unparalleled, and there are hundreds of kids who would give anything to have the opportunity to learn at an institution like Marlborough but are prevented from doing so by factors completely out of their control.
Remember the joy you felt when you opened that envelope in 6th grade (or whenever you received your acceptance), and the purple and silver confetti stars poured out? Remember the excitement and pride you felt to be a part of the Marlborough community? Where did that go? I think mine probably fell into the same ditch where my social life and free time are buried, but I can still feel remnants of it, sometimes. Like when the entire junior and senior classes started snapping–literally snapping–when a student stood up to an authority figure and questioned the principles of slut shaming. Or when the Buzzfeed article (you know the one I’m referring to) came out, and students on social media slammed it and stood in solidarity with the school.
The fact of the matter is this: Marlborough students love to complain about the School, but as soon as someone from the outside criticizes our community (like in the Buzzfeed article) we become immediately defensive. This isn’t an unusual phenomenon–people the world over do the same thing in relation to their families, friends, and governments–but it’s not exactly healthy either. I think that Marlborough girls should learn not to take our School for granted, to appreciate our privilege (not feel any sort of perverse guilt for it; just recognize it exists) and apply it to our everyday relationship with the School.