The purpose of education seems to be completely different than when Horrace Mann created the common school system in the 1800s. Mann believed that a basic level of literacy and understanding of public ideas was necessary for political stability and social harmony. The common school movement ensured everyone received an education to which would be funded by taxes. Parts of this have evolved for the greater good, but this statement has definitely been negatively altered in a world of competition for labels, especially in the last few decades.
Once the system was created, only a handful of people were fully educated. Nowadays, 99% of students receive education in the United States because it is required by law. So should we sit back and be proud that almost all of our population is receiving education? Or do we need to find other ways to compete with one another? Most people choose the latter.
Years ago, most students possessed a “good enough” mindset, while people nowadays feel the need to be the best – young adults in particular. Kids at Ridgewood High School discuss academics nonstop – whether it be about maintaining perfect grades or squeezing in another AP course. Colorful sweatshirts with college logos across the chest flood the hallways. Students attend clubs or programs they don’t enjoy simply to add it to their resume in hopes of being admitted into a more prestigious university. When did post-high school plans become a status symbol?
Students see college as a defining factor of their success and that everything done in high school is purely to get into the best college as possible. However, hundreds of colleges across the country deliver the same level of education and students can receive the same degree of education. A lower acceptance rate is not a higher success rate. Post-high school plans should be based on where the student can thrive–whether that be dependent on the size, distance away from home and atmosphere.
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Graphic: Kate Minn