About Me

My name is Spencer. I'm 23 years old, and I'm a junior at Princeton. So far college has taken me five years. I've taken time off to work, transferred to USC and come back, and learned a lot along the way.

I like to think about life and what I'm going to do with mine.

I've met a lot of people my age with the same sorts of thoughts so feel free to read, take surveys, and comment.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Too many prep classes

As a sophomore in high school, I started taking classes to prepare for the SAT exams. Every week I had extra homework, more class, and, on occasion, I had to take an extremely long practice exam. At the time, I hated having extra homework to do; all it did was make me go to bed later, drive to another place after practice, and give me more stress by highlighting the ever more present parental pressure to do well on my college entrance exams. Nevertheless, in the end, I knew the class had helped me do better than I would have.

In a similar vein, I recently found out that a kid I know is taking a prep course for the ISEE (the exam to get into private middle and high schools). A 6th grader!? I can't believe that ten and eleven year old children are now taking extra classes to get into middle school! That just seems so ridiculous if you think about it. It means that other children who can't afford these classes or don't know about them are at a severe disadvantage at the beginning of their educations whether they know it or not.

First and foremost, schools (starting from middle school or even earlier) are becoming so competitive to get into that sixth graders are attending prep classes for middle school entrance exam. We all know what that kind of competition feels like; we all applied to a ton of colleges and know how much of a crap-shoot it is.

Secondly, these classes end up putting a lot of pressure on the kids. At that age, the parents are the ones signing their kids up for these prep courses, and most likely, they will try to encourage (or pressure, in more realistic terms) their children to do better in order to go to the best middle school to get into the best high school and then attend the best university and so on and so forth. So many kids, even younger than our generation, are growing up only knowing that competition and pressure to do well. They grow up stressed before they know what the word even means!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for pointing out the stress that test prep can place on kids.

    I went to a public school for Kindergarten through 6th grade and applied to one of these prep schools with competitive admission at age 11 on a whim, no test prep or essay drafts, etc. For me, the process was not very stressful.

    Four years later, my youngest sister applied to the same school with a very different expereince. Our parents bought her an ISEE prep book and had her do practice problems for months before the test. At this point, she already had two sisters at the school so there was a kind of inherrent pressure even without the book and application primping. These constant reminders made it seem like it was so much more important to get in to this school than it actually was, and seeing the stress and tears on her eleven-year-old face broke my heart.

    I guess I've now built the story up enough to a point where a conclusion is owed, so yes, she did get in and is now a very happy and successful student there.
    But the ending of this particular story is besdies the point; no part of an 11 or 13 or 17 or even 22-year-old's self worth should be dependent on a test score or letter from an admission office.

    -Class of 2015