Growing Up

15 Jan

Our local high school is known for its competitiveness, having been ranked twice as the top public high school in New Jersey.  The academic workload is heavy and close to half of the student body takes Advanced Placement courses.  The average SAT score is about 300 points above the state’s average.  No doubt the reputation of the high school has kept real estate prices from nose-diving as young families continue to move in for the schools.

Since freshmen year the students have understood the academic stakes involved.  Some underclassmen feel no compunction asking seniors about their grades and coursework as if to benchmark their own progress.  A junior boy whom my daughter didn’t know had asked her once point blank where she was applying.  After recovering from shock at his audacity, she brushed him off with her usual song-and-dance routine about not talking about colleges.  He threw up his hands as if offended and channeled Steve Martin: “Well, excuuuse me!”

It’s not just the kids either.  On Back to School night in late September, my daughter was approached by an unknown Chinese man in the school hallway who asked her where she was applying to college.  She wasn’t going to discuss her college choices with friends, let alone strangers, so she mumbled something about not having decided yet.  Since she is not an artful dissembler, I don’t know whether he believed her or not but he remarked that it was getting late in the application process, shouldn’t she have decided by now?  She felt awkward and uncomfortable.  The next day, a friend said to her, “So I see you met my father.”

So with this striving, achievement-oriented profile in mind, I didn’t know what to expect when early college notifications came in last month.  I have been pleasantly surprised and gratified by the supportiveness the seniors have shown each other, at least on Facebook.  When someone posts about a college acceptance, the congratulations usually roll in within minutes.  (Shows how often and how long they stay on FB).  They may use a combination of exclamation marks, all-cap lettering, or emoticons to emphasize their excitement:




After all the competing and achieving, it’s heartening to see the students come together, cheer on one another’s successes, and to feel happiness for others.  For those who got deferred or rejected, students offer support and encouragement, which is usually done in person.  In four years they have grown up and matured, no longer little boys and girls.


2 Responses to “Growing Up”

  1. penny January 18, 2012 at 11:05 AM #

    It is so nice to know that they are there for each other, despite the intense competition in the school 🙂

    • Wanchee Wang January 19, 2012 at 10:32 AM #

      Yes, it’s nice to see them maturing into young men and women and getting ready for adulthood.

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