by: Esme Hendrickson
Even though our motto states “We learn not for school, but for life”, after being at Hathaway Brown for 13 years and counting I believe it’s better stated as: “We learn not for school, but for getting into the most prestigious college possible.” Meaning at Hathaway Brown, girls are bred to constantly be looking towards the next objective they can reach through their studies. This creates a sort of tunnel vision. Although it’s good to consider the future, like anything, it can be dangerous if taken to a certain degree; that is, when students place too much emphasis on college all the preceding events of less magnitude will collapse into a tired blur. The times I’ve heard a girl with dark circles around her eyes say, “But if I take this class it will look good for colleges” are too many to count. Starting in freshman year, students work ferociously like Santa’s little elves to build a resume that will be enticing to the esteemed college of their choice. And over the course of four years, they build a totally refined persona. Even if the high school career they built lacks any genuine interest, it doesn’t matter to the students because they simply want to go to the college with as much superiority as possible. Thus a humiliation is attached to states schools that are available to the masses (despite the fact that only around 20% of the country has the privilege to attend college).
When talking with my friends about colleges, I often feel shame when announcing where my sister is studying, even though she is the complete opposite of a disgrace to me. I spit “Ohio State” out of my mouth as if it’s the embarrassing relative you never want any of your friends to meet. Not surprisingly they gasped “Oh, but she was so smart!”
She was brilliant, cum laude even, and will forever be a role model to me. Nevertheless, there’s a stigma behind going to a public state school in the bubble that Hathaway Brown has created. But maybe your parents can’t afford a private college with a shiny name. Maybe a scholarship is necessary. It makes me sick. People crave the exclusivity of a private college for the name it holds, despite the fact that every college, Ivy League or not, is another opportunity for an education. However that isn’t enough, they want it because everyone dreams of having it, but only one will. Students are lured in by the idea of having a polished college as their own, so much so they are willing to alter their interests and pursuits to suit the college, not themselves.
However, they fail to realize that their shallow pursuits will only lead to an even more pathetic end. By tenaciously focusing on a distinguished college, their life, in particularly their studies and activities, begin to revolve around this enigma. Soon after, an obsession unravels and takes a chokehold over every aspect of their life, which only limits them. In the end, whether they are accepted by the college or not, it’s impossible for it to meet the standards they’ve been dreaming up for years. And even if it does, they still manipulated their time in high school to suit the ideals of a distant idea that was better left as a childhood dream. Furthermore, this will open deepen their trust in the pursuit. Through ferociously working in high school, students put on blinders, which restrain them from exploring risks, making mistakes, and purely enjoying every class they take even when it’s difficult and they make a “bad” grade. They gamble away all the laughable and heart wrenching memories created in each slipup they could encounter, all because their eye is stuck on a faint light, which has sent their mind on nothing more than a wild goose chase.
Everyone has a crux. Everyone is perpetually stuck on an idea that will struggle to take shape. In one sense it helps us achieve a grand goal, at the expense of a million moments in time. Leaving a hollow space, or an absence of memories, in one’s soul.