College. That scary seven lettered word is always in the back of every high school student’s mind. College acceptance is one of the most daunting and terrifying aspects of our high school experience. While it is okay to be nervous or scared or even terrified about getting into the perfect college (we all are), too many students discount their high school years by focusing on creating themselves to be the perfect college candidate and miss out on the great parts of high school.
Ridgewood High School students seem to be in constant competition with each other, as every person wants to be accepted into their dream school. I’ll be honest, I often find myself participating in that competition. I often catch myself thinking, “Oh, I’m just doing this to make my college applications look better” or, “This activity will look so good for colleges” and comparing myself to others who I know want to apply to the same schools. This should not matter. As a school community, we should not be so focused on college. Thinking about the future matters, but we put too much of an emphasis on how we will appear to schools that we ignore the unique experiences we have right now in our small, high school world.
Think about it. When in your life will you ever live in the same town with all of the friends you have known since elementary school again? When will you and your family all live under the same roof and be able to spend time together as often as you do now? When will you have this much freedom to make mistakes and try new things without serious consequences? When we focus too much on the idea of college and the future, we tend to ignore all of these opportunities that we will never have again.
This is why we should fill our lives with the things we love. Packing your schedule with every AP and honors class available while participating in an abundance of extracurricular activities may seem like a great way to get into college. If doing all of these things is what you truly love, then that is fantastic, but if these activities make you miserable and you continue to participate in them to look impressive on paper, then is it really worth it in the long run? Will you look back ten years from now and admire the amount of stress and unhappiness you chose to take on in high school? Or will you regret and acknowledge how they made your high school experience a dismal one? Truthfully, high school can be full of fond memories, and does not have to be an experience society groans at. Happiness is a choice.
Let’s face it, we are all going to end up at a college where we are more than fine, and if college is not for you, that is okay too. But by stressing ourselves out and worrying too much about the future, the only people we are hurting are ourselves. Particularly in Ridgewood, we live in a competitive environment where we can often forget that high school should not be about the competition, rather about the journey and learning experiences. I understand this is challenging, as we are all enduring this scary part of life, but high school should filled with happy experiences. Do not forget to live it to its fullest.