You know how when we’re little we run around saying “I hate school; school sucks” and our parents said “it’s OK it will get better. In high school you can pick your electives and in college you can study whatever you want!” They are liars. Horrible, horrible liars. Not- “if you are good this Easter a rabbit will bring you candy” -type liars but the kind of lying that is meant to make things sound less scary until you are old enough to realize that life is scary and you have to suck it up and deal. Alright, I get it, it’s a necessary evil.
Do you know what’s not a necessary evil? Bad schools. And I’m not talking about under-funded, inner-city schools (although children of the world should not have to deal with them either), I’m talking about schools that are run poorly. If there is one thing I have discovered about the educational system it is that it constantly operates under a layer of organized chaos and that at least 95% of it is entirely due to people who just want money (surprise).
I was going to give you a rough overview of my high school before I get into why and how American High School –and I’m not being clever, that is in fact the name of my school–has effectively ruined my life, but then I remembered it has a fairly snazzy article on the wikipedia page about our lovely administration. Oh wait, they don’t actually mention the embezzlement of school funds¹ or loss of every teacher’s contract for an entire semester. But let’s forget all that for right now, because despite the fact that all of that nonsense probably led to my greatest issue it’s not directly related. (It’s a perfectly good reason to hate the school though; take note of that.)
The real issue was my classes- specifically the classes I did not get to take in Senior year. Specifically Mandarin II. Now, I took Mandarin I in 11th grade and did just fine, so passing along to Mandarin II should not have been an issue. Except we had a problem with the classroom reserved for Mandarin- it was too small. It was in fact so small that it contained only room for 28 desks, even though the class always had 30 students. Still, the administration didn’t want to have to go to the trouble to move anyone around for such a silly reason, so we all smiled and nodded and promised not to complain to the district while every day we did lotteries to see who would sit on the floor.
I didn’t really think that much about it at the time because I always assumed our school was poor and that was why we had crappy textbooks, bad tech resources and no room to do anything. I later discovered that I was quite wrong and that our school wasn’t poor, our administration just had no idea how to budget money into appropriate resourses– oh, and probably the embezzlement thing too. Maybe. At any rate the following year they decided to ake the accepted roll list and just cut the last two students on the roll out of the class. My last name is Weber (if you couldn’t tell, I didn’t make it in).
So you are probably thinking: Who cares if you didn’t get to take the Mandarin class, you graduated right? Why yes! I did graduate, with a 3.66GPA in fact (putting me in the lower 60%) but there’s a teeny-tiny issue with not having that class. Without my second year of a foreign language I was ineligible to apply to a UC (University of California) or a CSU (California State University). Being ineligible for the application to the schools- along with having a below 4.0GPA- prevented me from getting another important aspect of college- Scholarships. So, no matter what I was definitely going to community college for at least a year. No biggie, right? Yeah, well, I did pretty damn good in school considering how crappy of a time I had (more crappy then your average high school experience even) and I think I deserved a nice university life like my friends. But California wasn’t gonna give it to me because I didn’t earn it- because I didn’t take that second year of foreign language.
Do you know what my high school adviser said about all this? Nothing. Because I didn’t have one. The whole school shared a single college adviser and she was in about twice a week- during class hours only- and all she ever did was direct you to college websites, find old college yearbooks and hand out fliers. Oh, and I think she gave us a career aptitude test once, which she told me I cheated on because I got 50% artist/50% computer science as my result. Totally and completely useless. Obviously as long as we didn’t sue and got the hell out of school before the age of 21, they didn’t care what happened to us afterward. At least, not us “average” students. I happen to know for a fact that our valedictorians (they tied with a 5.4GPA…out of 4.0) went to Princeton and Harvard. Good for them. Looks good for the school too. For everyone else, who cares?
This is why my high school sucks and why my graduation was both a relief and an extreme disappointment, but it may not be clear yet how an event that happened four years ago is still ruining my life. Well, it’s four years later and I’m still in college; I’m still a sophomore in college. Why? Well, there are a few complicated situations and a lot of financial issues but the long and short of it is because we moved to Indiana out of the blue (quite literally, I think I was given two weeks) and I just went to the nearest college I could. I won’t get into why my college is good or bad or why my department is or isn’t a total mess but I can tell you this much– a UC or CSU school would have been better. I also would have gotten in-state tuition and State financial aid from California, instead of having to deal with Indiana’s academic system which was extremely confused by the fact that I was coming here at all and wanted to know why. (Oh, you went to school in California? Why are you here of all places?– Because I followed my parents out here because they want to buy a house in a reasonable market and live in a nice neighborhood and start a new life, etc etc.)
So, there you have it. While it’s true that many, many other events have contributed to the issues I am having now– and it’s also true that if the situation was different I could be in an equally poor situation or worse– I have to say that because of the lack of any sort of consideration for actual students that American High School had, I have not had an easy academic career and that is slowly leading into to an equally uneasy adult life that I am not looking forward to, at the moment. It makes me mad when I think about how many other students are probably in similar situations as me right now, simply because my school just didn’t care.
So thanks American Highschool, for ruining my life. Still.
¹Actually, no charges were pressed against the individual(s) involved because of insufficient evidence, I however know that our school was losing money somehow and it certainly wasn’t on the over-purchase of textbooks.