The Race to Nowhere?

Lindsey Bell Co-Features Editor Since the first day of Junior year, there has been one word constantly running through my mind: college. Its omnipresence is overwhelming and causes unnecessary stress. Up until now, the angst and drama that surrounded this word could be avoided, put off to the side, something that could be averted; it was next year’s problem. Well now, it is this year’s problem. So much of what we do is college driven. It is all about getting the highest grade in the most difficult classes. But as if this wasn’t enough, we are not only expected to be above average students, but also well rounded. This means not only being the star of the soccer team, but also having the lead in the play, head of student government, and the ability to build an impressive art portfolio. We really start the college process junior year. For some, it’s earlier. Many have already taken at least one, maybe a few practice ACT/SAT tests by August 28. But the first official induction is the meeting with the college counselors in November. Up until that point, it is possible to put it aside and justify your inaction with the reasoning that it’s too soon. But after that college-counseling meeting, you realize that it’s no longer too soon and you have to start thinking about where you want to go and how you are going to get in. Before you know it, you’re signed up for clubs for the sake of “being involved in the community”. Realistically, when club blocks meet so infrequently, it is difficult to be truly active in more than one or two. Why do we sign up? Why is the membership list for Book Club over 40 names long when only eight people actually show up? So that when we apply to college, we can say we were in not only book club, but also community service club, Free the Children, and Habitat for Humanity. We spend our lives acting for the next best thing. This is human nature, or at least American human nature. We are always looking for what comes next and how to get to what comes next, rather than living in the present. We should invest our energy and time into what we love and do it because we love it, not so that we can get into college. If you spend your whole life looking for what comes next, you will eventually find yourself with nowhere else to go. So much of what we do is to guarantee our college admission. But its no longer just about getting into college, its about getting into the best college. There’s a certain stigma with “name-band” colleges. Sometimes, students set their heart on a school simply because of the name. Granted, Ivy League schools are great schools, but are there better? It is still possible to get a great education at a school that doesn’t have the label of being one of the top universities in the nation. Ivy League schools are a great fit for some people, but not all, and it is important to see what else is out there and not disregard a school because it isn’t ranked top 10 in the U.S. News Report Best Schools List. But what happens when the “best” simply isn’t enough? There’s a great quote in a film that was recently shown at Latin called The Race To Nowhere: “Somewhere along the line our children entered a race to be the smartest, to test the highest, and to achieve the most.” This is what has been defined as what it takes to be successful. But what defines success? There’s a short story posted on the wall at Jimmy Johns: The American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, only a little while. The American then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?” The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.” The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this take?” To which the American replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then?” The American laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.” “Millions?” asked the fisherman, “Then what?” The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evening, sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos!” At the end of the day, what matters is that we are happy. It’s not about the name of the college you go to, but it’s about the people you meet and the experiences you have and that is what will ultimately define your success. If you are able to be truly happy and do everything that you love to do by being an American investment banker- then do it. If what makes you happy is the ability to sleep a little, play with your kids, and take siesta with your loved one, then I believe you have reached a different kind of success. New York Times Article “When The Best Isn’t Good Enough” “Race to Nowhere” Trailer]]>