It was past midnight on a Sunday evening, when I received a text message from one of my friends. She wrote that the advanced math and science courses she is taking are “all she has going for her,” and vented to me about how these classes were likely going to “brand” her for college. I empathized with my friend as I listened to her voice her frustration with being labeled solely based on academic achievements or extracurricular activities. But like it or not, this act of labeling is alive and well at Staples, and reduces people to feeling like they are merely a walking college application.
The Staples community is vigorous, cutthroat and competitive. Academically, students are challenged by their course-loads, teachers and peers. The expectation to excel is high.
So, to appeal to colleges, many seek out an “edge” that will differentiate them from others–typically specializing in a sport, an arts-related interest or an academic activity. Unfortunately, in the quest for admissions to elite colleges and universities, students at Staples now categorize each other based upon these academic and college application-worthy activities rather than appreciate them for their personality traits such as character, kindness or humor.
I am sure that I have been defined by my involvement in music, Inklings and my academic classes, and I know that I am guilty of labeling some of my peers in this way, too. To effectively eliminate this process, there needs to be a fundamental change in our mindsets and in how we approach our schoolwork.
AP courses offered by Staples promote competitive sentiment, as students boast about how many AP classes they take and how they receive a measly five to six hours of sleep per night. We need to place more focus on ourselves rather than what our peers may be doing; we need to view fellow students for who they are, what they stand for and what makes them unique, ignoring our competitive impulses and cultivating identities based on these elements, not what could be found in a trivial college résumé.