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We are more than a grade

As winter approaches, high school seniors are preparing for the college applications process. Even the best procrastinators among us have only a few months left.

Despite the nervousness, I think the scholars, the high achievers and the honors students have never been more excited. What is judgment day to some is to others, a chance to measure how all the hard work has paid off so far.

And it should, right? That’s the American ideal, that hard work pays off. But without a solution to the debt crises in sight, and Social Security seriously in jeopardy, among other issues, the future isn’t as secure as it once was.

Academic all-stars of today hold as much faith in the future as a Christian does in his god. The reality is, in a time where people need to pull together, competition has never been higher. It’s everywhere; bi-partisan competition in our government is ferocious.

Our nation’s economic model is based on a competitive market. I wonder why troops are still being deployed in the Middle East. This type of competitiveness starts in high school and it’s not what our country needs.

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The mentality is this: Sacrifice the time and energy necessary to develop an impressive transcript and a high ACT score.

Basically, academic honors in high school equates to admission in a prestigious university. "Good" school equals "good" job equals considerable salary, big house, and ultimately, happiness.

It’s sad how many truly intelligent youth equate happiness with money. There’s no real zest for learning anymore. If a student can get an "A" without sincerely learning the material, they will. There’s not enough time for zest when top academic competitors take on staggering course loads.

With America’s universities becoming more globally sought after, the expectations of students seeking a bright future are ever increasing. The ACT is an entirely different test than it was when our parents took it. But what does the ACT really measure?

America’s future doesn’t need digital age test-takers; it needs true American dreamers. My concern is that competition in the education system generates less innovators and more highly efficient machines. A student cannot pursue any specific passion without a certain proficiency in all the subjects as measured by a given standardized test.

No one would want to be diagnosed by a doctor who couldn’t pass his med-school exam, yet how many people want to be diagnosed by an overpaid genius who found out 12 years too late that they hate their profession?

Today's students are honored with wealth and happiness in their futures, but I see too many lawsuits over high-profile divorces of people who never got an "A" in being human.

With that, I urge parents: Rather than increasing the pressure, or being disappointed by a grade, encourage your child to put more faith in the present, and perhaps to find more enjoyment in a fleeting childhood. And keep in mind, we’re more than a grade.

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