Winter break of junior year was without question the ugliest point of my high school life. Instead of sleeping in or going skiing or whatever, imagine spending every minute from 8.30am to 5pm every week day during those precious two weeks of Christmas vacation in an excessively air-conditioned room doing the same fucking set of questions over and over again. Well, okay, not the same set of questions because that’s a waste of time and money, but like going through the same motions day in day out – starting with a 3-hour full length practice test at 8.30 sharp, followed by a 30 minute lunch break, and then 5 fucking hours of test revision.
I certainly don’t reminisce on that entire SAT/college apps period with fondness, but I do feel a little nostalgic thinking back on the kind of do-or-die attitude we all had. It was a time when the people around you actually cared how you were faring in academics and the social circle. At the time, it was annoying as hell when people you barely ever talk to came up to you in class and asked you what you got on the chem midterm. I remember ranting to my college friends about how ridiculous it was that on the Monday after the SAT all these people in school would not only compare scores but also share questions that they thought they got wrong. Not gonna lie, I was one of those people at one stage. Prep classes were probably the worst of all. At the academy I went to, people who received 2100+ got their name and score printed in some ass fancy font and framed onto the fucking wall to motivate us less gifted human beings. For a year and a half, the only things that mattered to us were getting that damn 2400 and getting accepted into an Ivy League college. Neither of which I achieved, obviously.
The idea that perfect scores and top colleges are the ultimate goal in life seems totally ridiculous now, but there’s still a kind of comfort in striving for a set goal with a bunch of people just as competitive as you are. In college, in big lectures especially, no one gives a rat’s ass what you get on a stupid test or where you are interning at or which graduate school you’re applying to. Everyone is majoring in a different subject, heading down a completely different career path. In a way, there is no point in comparing and competing. In the past year, I don’t think I’ve shared a test paper with anyone other than my roomie. It seems wrong to even ask. And sometimes it gets to a point where I almost wish my classmates could be a little less mature. There’s a tiny part of me that even misses those high school kids who wouldn’t mind their own damn business. Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to set foot in a high school classroom ever again…but it was nice knowing exactly where I stood among my peers. And it was honestly kind of flattering, though annoying, to have people comparing themselves to you. I guess we all want to matter, right? In high school it certainly felt like I did, at least a little bit.