Several of my friends were incredulous when they read “Fighting Tyranny: A Proposal” (Teen Ink edited out the word “modest.”) in the December issue of Teen Ink. Did I really believe what I had written? Did I really believe that college is bad?
The answer is an emphatic no. I, Bonnie, Kavoussi, am not the speaker in “Fighting Tyranny.” I am in fact thrilled by the prospect of going to college, learning a specialized field from erudite professors, and being exposed in a span of four years to the wealth of knowledge accumulated over centuries.
So why on earth did I write a proposal that mocked the very institution of college?
It started out as an innocent English assignment. My teacher had assigned for us to write a proposal, and when a fellow student asked if we could write a satire, she said yes, though it would be a challenge since none of her previous students had tried.
I was inspired almost instantly. That very same day, as my peers fretted about the upcoming PSAT, who had already taken an SAT subject test, and whether that last calculus test had seriously damaged our averages, I thought: Why not tease this anxiousness to get into a “first-rate” college and wake us up to the dangerous paths we are setting for ourselves?
“Fighting Tyranny” is not the desperate solution of a lunatic, burned-out junior venting out her frustration. It is the satire of a junior horrified by the “dog-eat-dog” careerism permeating our lives even at the high school level.
This hunger for “success” does not originate from parents, teachers, or higher education: it comes from within us. After all, my college counselor does not urge me to drown myself in AP courses and extracurricular activities. On the contrary, she insists that I take no more than three AP courses and focus on just a few activities. Hence, my decision to take five AP classes only confirms that the passion for competition derives from a much nearer source - and it is not a bad thing. Competition is a catalyst for the fountain of imagination, helping us achieve new heights.
However, the competition can sometimes get too fierce, the stakes seemingly too high. After all, when we delude ourselves into believing that a particular college is the only one for us, we have already forgotten the true purpose of higher education.
Why do we go to college, anyway? We all have our own different answers. However, I hope that not everyone’s answer is to obtain a good-paying job, that some actually enjoy learning for the sake of learning. I hope that we realize what success is in the context of our lives, so that when we achieve it we will not be yet reaching out our arms in discontent. I hope that we realize that attending any college is in fact an enormous privilege within itself.
My greatest concern, however, is not only that many of us are putting ourselves on the road to inevitable dissatisfaction - but that the speaker in my proposal could actually be taken seriously. I assumed that the immature proposal to create our own higher education system, reached by blatantly botched logic, would receive just laughs, not shrieks. Has the battle to get into college become so fierce that even a facetious suggestion to resist the system cannot be taken lightly?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.