Beginning in sixth grade, counselors have periodically paraded intomy classroom urging “Goal-setting gets you places!” to which I respond, “Ofcourse! My goal is to cooperate, say no to drugs, and to give everything 110%!” which is likegiving counselors their wings. They love hearing about goals, but at this point, as an overworkedand under-rested student in my final semester of junior year, there is only one goal that we areall nudged toward: college.
I feel like everything I’ve ever done has been inpreparation for this next phase of my life. Okay, Mom, I’d think as a kindergartner,I’ll learn the alphabet if you promise I’ll need to know it later. And since thenI’ve learned the alphabet, enrolled in honors classes, stayed awake during biology, and lostmany irreplaceable opportunities in favor of studying for finals: all for the chance to get thebest education. I just want to be in a college that I deserve.
The college I deserve dependson what I’m doing right now. If I scribble through my homework and slack off senior year, theexceptional colleges will pass me by. See, I’ve got this feeling that my perfect college isgoing to find me. So I’m going to give a counselor their wings and share mygoals.
Phase one is to get good grades, which, I think everyone will agree, is much coolerthan, say, summiting Mount Everest. For one thing, it’s a heck of a lot harder because anyold tourist could just take a helicopter to the top of Mount Everest, and frankly, it’s goingto take more than an airplane ride to impress me.
What I have to do is consistent, arduous,time-devouring assignments that are due every day that doesn’t begin with “S.”They must be done neatly in blue or black ink with my name, date, class, period, assignment,sub-assignment, and mother’s maiden name in a hand-drawn three-dimensional tridecagon on theright-hand corner or five points will be deducted. Writing an essay worth 200 points on “WhoMy Hero Is and Why, and Somehow Tie in Frederick Douglass” will take anyone to the brink ofinsanity. One cannot compare moving up in elevation on a big rock to being a student.
Maybeit will clarify things if I said I wanted to deserve good grades. Being deserving is trying to getthe best grades possible, even if I already have an A and, I hate to say it, giving 110% to allaspects of school: homework, attitude and study. Without setting these high standards, how could Iever expect to be a successful college student?
I know it’s cliché to cheerily say mygoal is to get good grades, but I consider it the foundation. Why would anyone go to school withoutthe intention of making the most of it? It’s true, as my teachers will attest, I have gottenthose coveted good grades, but my junior year will not lead to the lazy senior slide. If anything,I am redoubling my efforts senior year and attacking every advanced class to make sure I’mprepared for the next altitude. I plan, as I have practiced this year, to set aside a few minutesevery day to study ahead and I want, more than most skeptical teachers can believe, to keep caring.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.