I pull on the canvas shoulder strap of my backpack and stroll casually towards my next class. In the sea of people, I scan for familiar faces and call out to those I know. They smile or wave as they pass me towards their next class. Almost mechanically I manuever my way through the hallway that reminds me of a sardine can. Always packed to the brim, it is a daily obstacle course just to get to class on time. But, after practicing for nearly three years, I seem to have almost mastered the art.
Suddenly, the crowd breaks and a small boy darts through carrying a backpack that must weigh as much as he does, if not more. I recognize him as a sophomore. I glance around and find myself unintentionally categorizing the faces. Sophomore, senior, junior. Sophomore, senior, senior. I stop myself and ask the question: How are sophomores and seniors so different? Do three years really make a chasm between their mindsets, goals, and actions?
Determined, I set myself to the task of interviewing my peers on their opinions of college, school, and social life. I expected to find remarkable differences between the sophomores and seniors. Afterall, as I compared myself in my sophomore and seniors year I feel like I have matured immensely and have had to wake up to the reality invading my life. As a sophomore, I felt like I was in Neverland. There was always going to be some poor senior who had to deal with the mountains of college and scholarship applications, and the tedious and meticulous tasks of taking the ACT and AP tests. I never thought it would happen to me.
But, life happened and I flew away from Neverland. I look back on my sophomore and junior year and ask myself: Could I have prepared more for these upcoming months? What would I have done differently? Did I not know something I should have that would have helped me prepare better? The answer? Maybe. I could have exchanged a few classes for a harder one, but, for now, my choices still have put me in a good position.
I stare down at the results of my interviews, confused. Where are the deep gorges of difference between the seniors and sophomores? I take a step back and it hits me. We are all the same.
Yes, I realize that the seniors can be more mature or have reality checks more often than the sophomores in Neverland. But, we all realize we are set on a course. We want to achieve in school and get good grades. We prepare for college with ACT prep and AP classes. We grow up, but, we enjoy spending time with our friends and bringing out our inner child. Yes, in the end our grades and ACT scores matter, but, high school cannot be measured solely by a test score or a grade point average. It is measured in the character we build and the relationships we develop and ultimately the person we become.
So, back to my original question: Do three years really make a chasm between the mindset, goals, and actions of seniors and sophomores? Maybe, it depends on what you want to measure.