Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Somebody Got Out of High School. Barbie Lived. The Blue Gummy Bears Won.

It's true what they say about high school. We really did just fill in worksheets and listen to the same material get rehashed over and over, seven hours a day, five days a week, eight-and-a-half months a year for four straight years.

We were not expected to read the textbooks or even pay attention in lecture. You get everything drilled into you through simple repetition, and if you can parrot the teacher on the homeworks, quizzes, and tests, you're golden. In fact, having an original thought in high school is seemingly forbidden. Despite all this, some people thrive there.

I graduated with a 3.9 cumulative GPA. I studied occasionally, but I also read books on serial murderers and college science textbooks. I wrote my notes and the odd worksheet or two backward or upside down just to show I could do it. I argued with my teachers about religion, politics, ethics, and human rights when things got too repetitive. I participated in all the requisite getting-into-a-good-college extracurricular activities, but I also started parody religions, plotted world domination, wondered how many boxes of gelatin it would take to fill the school, staged zombie gummy bear re-enactments of major Civil War battles, and performed crude voodoo ceremonies on a Barbie doll at the lunch table.

We are told from the time we start sixth grade that everyone has to go to college to get a decent career, but we never hear how different it really is from all the spoonfed drivel of K-12. I'm a junior now, majoring in a science. Was the change from high schooler to undergrad drastic and occasionally quite difficult? You bet it was, and not everyone makes it. Many get weeded out in the first two years of general education, and the ones who didn't are mostly hanging on because Mommy and Daddy are subsidizing Junior's partying.

Graduating high school and coming to a university, though, was great for me. Much of the repetition is gone, I get all the textbooks I can handle, and I've really started to love research. I no longer need to amuse myself because the fresh, shiny, new ideas keep me busy and engaged. I'm planning to go on for my PhD.

Professors, we're out there, we love you and your ideas, and you represent some of the best things that have ever happened to us. We just don't know how to say it to your faces.