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(Proud) Parent of an Honors Student

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Drive through suburbia for longer than ten minutes and you will indubitably encounter a car with a bumper sticker on the back reading “Proud Parent of an Honors Student.” When I encounter such a bumper sticker I am left to question what makes me, an honors student, so worthy of the praise and congratulations typically given to honors students?


Many are left to wonder what qualifies a student as an ‘honors student,’ but the more important question to ask is: why is this a good thing? Or, is it even a good thing?

The ideal, utopian image of an ‘honors student’ is that of a student who is outstanding in both his work ethic and demeanor. This student displays a passion to always learn more and achieve highly. This fervent passion for learning is reflected in the work ethic of an honors student. When approaching a task an honors student always puts forth his or her best effort. An honors student will rarely, if ever, fail to complete a task to the best of his or her ability. When approached with an obstacle to success, an honors student typically tries to ‘make it happen’ anyways even when the circumstance is not always the best. Honors students set extremely high standards for themselves and are often disappointed when their standards are not met.

Although this is the idealistic role of an ‘honors student,’ from personal experience I can tell you that this is not the case. In establishing an honor roll and similar awards, schools have had to quantize the requirements of an honors student. So while the characteristics of the idealistic ‘honors student’ are highly subjective, schools have been forced to categorize honors students as those that achieve a 4.0 grade-point average, or something similar.

The effect of this quantization is extremely negative and drastically changes what an honors student actually is. This definition of an honors student recognizes not the idealistic student who strives to maximize his potential but rather the student who takes whatever classes will ensure the maximization of his GPA. The currently established benchmark of an honors student encourages students to do whatever they can to achieve high grades. Because of this, some of these so-called honors students have resorted to taking easy classes just to get the A.

That student walking into “Ceramics 1” the period before “Beginning Drawing & Painting,” taking both just to cram in some easy classes, might be an honors student according to the school’s definition, but this student meets none of the moral criteria of a driven, success-minded student.

The true honors student might not be the student that aces every class with flying colors. Indeed, as we have seen, getting straight A’s does not necessarily mean that the student is pushing his abilities and making the most out of his education. In fact, a student who does not necessarily have the best GPA might very well embody the principles of a true honors student. Just as a straight-A student can be lazy and unmotivated to learn, a “B” or “C” student can be truly pushing himself to learn as much as possible and broaden his horizons. The school’s typical label of an ‘honors student’ does not accurately pinpoint who the true honors students are.

That being said, I would like to hereby resign my status as an ‘honors student.’ The accolade of being an honors student is undeserved by me, achieving high grades in an advanced math class that comes naturally to me. The true honors go to the student who is achieving a “B” or “C” in a lower level class, struggling all the way and putting forth every ounce of effort towards learning the material.





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