Junior Year is hard. I filled up my schedule with rigorous classes and engaging extracurriculars that leave little time to relax. While this is the most rewarding school year I’ve experienced, it’s the toughest too. Junior year is notoriously the year that gets you into college, and these colleges are allegedly on the hunt for “good students”, but with so many extracurricular opportunities and advanced learners, what even is a good student in this day and age?
Honestly, I have absolutely no idea what a “good student” means to me. I’m sure I should be saying that “owning your knowledge” or “following your passions” makes you a good student but I don’t even remotely live by those principles. At the beginning of my junior year, I made a goal to commit to delving deep into the curriculum and not merely getting by, but two months later and here I am, writing this post with hours of homework ahead of me after working on extracurricular projects and ACT all weekend. Don’t get me wrong I do try to go beyond memorization and often ask questions and do further research to expand my knowledge beyond the classroom curriculum. I’m a sucker for a good Crash Course video on yesterday’s EURO topic or a Wikipedia search on today’s author in LANG. I’m certainly engaged in class and strive to display understanding through work and participation. Additionally, my extracurriculars and endeavors mirror my passion for helping others, writing, travel, international relations, politics, and sleep. I’ve been successful in my goal to use everyday experiences and interests to cultivate productive extracurriculars like this blog or my involvement in Coalition Z (A youth-led political organization). These traits are what many would classify as those of a “good student” and I wish they were what I valued most, but I can’t say that with true conviction. These skills might get me credit from my parents, teachers, and peers but in the grand scheme of things, the system that evaluates me as I step towards higher education looks most closely at THEIR definition of a “good student”. Wouldn’t it make sense for me to value that same definition? There’s a correlation between my gpa and ACT score sitting at the top of my resume and my grades page on Schoology always being open on my computer. The higher education system values first and foremost those numbers they see at the top of the page. They do get a small window into what kind of student I am through recommendations and essays, and I’m hopeful that those will paint me in a positive light and give me an extra push through the door. However, I need to be the “good student” that colleges define quantitatively to even open that door. At most schools I hope to matriculate at, there are universally accepted benchmarks to even be considered. What I’m trying to say is that I recognize that a “good student” cares more about what they take away from their education rather than their grade, but I can’t in good conscience fully adopt that “redefined” definition. Until the higher education system changes to accommodate this definition, I’m going to keep believing in and striving to be their idea of a “good student” because that’s what I’ve been taught all my life, and doesn’t a “good student” put their educators’ advice into practice?