Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Word to Graduating Seniors

Last night, Hans and I had a discussion about seniors (both college and high school).  More importantly, we had a discussion about their parents.  You see, one of our friends sent a letter to her daughter's high school telling them to lay off the work load for graduating seniors.  The thought was that they'd already been accepted to college, and this should be an easy time for them.  Basically, give them work, but keep it simple.

Frankly, I think this is a load of crap.

I do think there's some merit to things like exam exemption and senior skip day, but beyond that why should the work load lighten?  Don't these budding young minds still have things to learn?  They have a whole summer to slack off, why should they get to start early?

I'll never forget the work load I had at the end of my senior year.  On top of my regular homework (averaging 2-3 hours a night), I had a project.  It was simple in theory...basically research a country of your choosing (mine was Ukraine).  We had to find newspaper clippings, poems, historical facts, symbols, flags, and a video.  Then we had to analyze all of it.  It was all due the week before exams.  Hmm, I think in 3 days time I got about 6 hours of sleep.  On the fourth day, I had to drive to DC for an ensemble performance.  Luckily, I have cousins who live in that area, and I just decided to skip the drive back home and stay at their place.  Too bad my 5 am wake up call turned into an 8 am wake up call (such lovely sleep).  I barely made it back home in time to hand in that lengthy project!  I was frustrated and tired.  I kept thinking, "Why can't we get a break!?  Is this really necessary?  We're already in college!!!"

Guess what, though.  I still look at that project today.  When I met Hans, I used that project to help explain my heritage to him.  I learned more and retain more information than I ever thought I would.  Not only that, but finishing that massive project gave me such a sense of accomplishment.  I was proud of that project and I still am today.  I also learned how to truly relish the break that summer vacation gave me.  Phew!

What these parents who complain about the work load don't understand is how important this work is.  Do they really think that life hands out breaks just because you know what's around the corner?  If these parents were told they were being promoted, do they really think they could quit doing their current job just because they know something better is coming?  Not only that, but do they really think it's that hard??  I mean, I know the hours are long, there's teenage drama, and sometimes it's stressful, but does it really compare to the anxiety of not knowing if you're going to be able to pay your next bill?  Does it compare to fear of losing a child or a loved one?  Heck, does it even compare to the general stresses of life that every young adult goes through...knowing that you have to take care of yourself, pay the bills, keep everything clean, and stay organized?  If these parents think so, then maybe they've had it easy, because in my experience, that project (all laid out for me, with examples, and a dead line) was one of the easiest things I've done.

So, a word to the graduating seniors.  Life is hard.  I wish I could say it was easy, but it's not.  That said, life can also be a lot of fun.  You will get out of it what you put into it.  If you put in that work, study hard, maybe even lose a couple nights of sleep, you will have rewards beyond your imagination.  You will have a project that you can look back on years later, that you can share with friends and family, and declare, "I created this, and I am proud."


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