Four years later: lesson learned


Olivia Summons, Editor-in-Chief

Countless times, I have seen someone fling their head back in spontaneous indignation: “Nothing in high school prepares you for life, why do we have to learn this?” Never have I disagreed more with any commonplace statement.

High school obviously equips students with the academic basics to pursue any path in life. However, high school also teaches us lessons we never asked for, and never knew needed to be taught.


Freshman year taught me that blending in is only useful until you are asked “what makes you stand out?” It soon became clear that our conversant facades of middle school were futile now that individuality trumped similarities.


Sophomore year taught me that effort doesn’t guarantee results. Those hours spent on studying for an AP Chemistry test does not automatically assure an A. Life is not a promise land of purposeful labor. There is no guarantee that every action contributes to a better society. However, just because some actions fail to reciprocate a desired reaction does not negate the importance of creating action in the first place. Sophomore year taught me that effort in itself has merit, even without immediate results.


Junior year taught me the importance of self-care. Gray hairs sprouting from the heads of time-anxious teenagers is not unheard of. I discovered that my happy place is the middle of a mat floor, surrounded by walls dotted with rocks: some rough and chalked, other large and sloped. Rock climbing became my self-care; a therapy session sans couch. I am a firm believer in the imperativeness of maintaining a hobby. One independent from the pressures of academics and the burdens of parental eyes. Junior year I found out the hard way that balance is acquired through trial and error.


Senior year taught me to expand my initial scope of understanding. I was exposed to the reality that the reservations and anxieties I had kept confined within the walls of my own mind, were the clones of everyone else’s. The student whose only qualm seems to be scheduling his weekend plans, is actually living in the shadow of his older brother’s elite college acceptance. While my worries for three years seemed so personal and independent, I lacked the perspective to entertain the notion that internal conflicts are synonymous across the school.

There is no signed contract delineating the role of education to prepare us for the logistics of life beyond high school. High school is not designed to teach us how to be an adult, it is designed to teach us how to be better students. We do not know how to do our taxes, we do not know self-defense, we do not know what a 401K is and we do not know how to communicate properly in romantic relationships. But the reality is that high school is not obliged to impart life skills. Skills are inherently developed through experience. If a text book tried to tell sophomores what insurance they’ll need in 20 years, would it truly have a lasting effect?

High school does in fact prepare us for life. Not the logistical skills that accumulate through experience – those are up to us to develop. School’s social dynamics delineate moral lessons never formally taught. Yes, I now know how to work in a team, respond to deadlines and build an argument with substantiating evidence. But it is the lessons I did not ask for that bridge the gap between high school and life beyond.