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Naïveté at Its Finest
As a child I would think of my life in the future and aspire to grandiose careers. A lawyer, a doctor, a world famous author, needless to say, I have always had fairly optimistic plans for my future. I used to think of the money and incredible power I would posses were I to reach these goals and my mouth would water.
Little did I know back then, there is a catch to almost everything in life and the catch for these opportunities was so twisted and painful that it causes the individuals that are forced to deal with it to cringe at the start of every school year. The cringe-worthy catch that I have grown a love hate relationship with is most commonly referred to as taking an honors class. Looking ahead now, the idea of just getting through everything is enough to make a student’s mouth water. So who willingly takes these horrendous classes? Only someone clinically insane? A masochist of sorts, perhaps? No! Why, it’s almost anyone!
The honors student could be your next door neighbor, your sibling, or even your best friend! They are the individuals who seem to always be complaining about how abused they feel by school and look like they have not slept in months. Sound familiar yet? These almost lifeless life forms used to be full of life, as a young, innocent 8th grade student, thinking, Gee whiz, I cannot wait to show the world what I can do. How ever shall I do it? Take honors courses in high school!
This new naïveté is sweeping the nation, turning helpless, young children into the sleep deprived individuals we refer to so highly as an honors student.
Young children be warned.
Our society is undoubtedly one of the most, if not, the most competitive out there. “Going for the jugular” is a term we, ever so playfully, toss around amongst one another as if we are talking about the weather. This ultra competitive nature we have created has spread to our youths has made the job of being an honors student even more difficult than it was even ten years ago. No matter how hard they work, how many community service hours they log, trophies won, or recognition earned there always seems to be someone just as good, if not, better.
Today, an honors student is not simply on the Honor Roll, or just a member of the National Honor Society, they are juggling varsity sports, mastering some kind of an instrument, and working as a volunteer somewhere, in addition to academia. What ever happened to the good ol’ days when a student could just show up, study, do his homework and get a chorus of praises? Now if he is not tearing his hair out of his head, he is not working nearly to his potential.
Which brings about another question, what is potential, and how do I know when I have met it? Once I have a mental breakdown everyday as opposed to the once or twice a week I normally have one?
As a student involved in honors programs myself, (if you have yet to figure that out from my sincere love in regards to these classes) I have consistently been told by my parents that there is always room for improvement.
I understand where they come from because, like any parent, they want to see their child be the best he can be and have the best in the future. But when I start to have panic attacks in the middle of the night over an assignment that I put off for another day just to get some sleep, or a project that I still have another week to finish, I start to wonder if taking on a heavy load is really worth it.
I conducted a survey amongst ten of my friends, all of which, as juniors in high school, are in at least two Advanced Placement or honors courses. From my survey, I was able to conclude that all of them feel some form of pressure from their parents and eight of them feel incredibly overwhelmed and could not wait to finish junior year (the two who responded the opposite did one sport, no regular community service, and took two honors courses).
So just stop taking the classes, you might say, but in the current competitive markets we are in for college and careers, that is just not an option. Especially not for these kids.
I guess one could say that an honors student is just an ultra competitive individual, almost too competitive, and that competitive nature is essentially what can lead to the individual’s ultimate undoing. Do not dare to blame this grossly distorted view on what is achievable strictly on a student’s competitive nature though, it must be continually noted that all honors students, and I say this in the most endearing way possible, are somewhat masochistic at heart.
There are some 40 Advanced Placement or honors courses offered at my high school, for some high schools that number is even greater. While some students are wise enough to understand what a feasible workload is, honors students can get a little “trigger happy” at registration time. A little AP here, a bit of honors there, and you get a heaping pile of work waiting for you.
The students that understand that severe mental pain is bad tend to take a more realistic perspective, by looking for what they are interested in when deciding what to study in college and choose their AP classes accordingly. An honors student apparently wants to quadruple major in science, social science, language, and math.
An honors student is someone who loves to “take the bull by the horns,” even if that bull has a history of killing numerous people and is on steroids. With this “go get ‘em” attitude, an onlooker would view an honors student much less as a genius and much more as a moron.
But honors students, myself included, continue to wage war with ourselves despite our body’s screaming to be free of the yoke we so willingly place on our back.
Feel free to try to explain to an honors student that they need to be conscience of his or her well being, but generally what you will receive in return is a glazed over stare attributed to weeks of sleep deprivation. There is no getting into their heads. It’s easy to see that honors students have created a wall around their thoughts and logic that keeps the rest of the world out, a wall so thick that no one can penetrate it and tell them they are wrong.
Perhaps that is why these students make the decisions that they do. The school gives them a somewhat lighter load their freshmen year to build the “honors wall” so that by junior year they enter a zombie-like state and cannot be reasoned with by anyone besides a book or a teacher. A conspiracy theory at best, but I have heard stranger.
But perhaps this conspiracy is designed for benefit. You know when people used to say, “be nice to the nerdy kids, they will be your boss one day?” The new saying is going to be, “be nice to the zombie in the halls, they will be your boss one day.”
I say this because these students do deserve credit that, while seemingly insane, they do have a tremendous ability to commit to the task at hand and pass with flying colors. An honors student is willing to step up to a job that most students tremble at the thought of doing, and in many cases an honors student has the ability to have a much higher level of thought process and problem solving from their peers.
They are fearless.
Is this lack of fear because of their loss of human emotion from having the life sucked out of them? Perhaps. Or is it from them seeing their future as bright and wanting more than anything to show the world what they are made of? Either way they are working very hard.
While these students do look exhausted, frustrated, and just a little on the cranky side, please just understand that it is not anything personal, they just see school and the world in a way a little different than a lot of other students. By looking at the whole picture, they see what is important and strive for it, no matter how moronic it may seem to everyone else or how much self-inflicted pain it may cause.