Senior Privilege Will Set Bad Habits Before College, but It Doesn’t Matter

[Statements, opinion, and views expressed in this column are those of the author named and are not necessarily those of the and Thought Process Enterprises team.]

The new scheduling policy, Senior Privilege, caused quite a stir among the school board at last Thursday’s meeting. In short, the policy allows seniors in good standing to come late or leave early for two periods.

Some members of the board expressed concern that the policy would appeal to slackers and set up bad habits before college. As someone who was just in college, I have to agree.

Saying that the policy appeals to slackers is an understatement. It’s a slacker’s paradise. The opportunity to sleep in an extra hour and miss nothing of consequence? I was late at least 20 times my senior year and missed the maximum number of days allowed for graduation, and my 18-year old self would have loved this policy.

However, the negative effects don’t matter. For the academically intelligent students, sleeping instead of making waffles in home econ class is going to make no long-term difference in their life. Will it set bad habits before college? Absolutely. But it doesn’t matter because unless everything about high school has changed since I’ve graduated, it prepares a student for college about as much as watching Rambo prepares someone for combat.

This is no fault of the administration and faculty, and there’s no shortage of great teachers in the district. Unfortunately, the entire high school education system is hamstrung by Federal and State mandates and budget shortages.

There’s no comparison between high school and college academics. One is feeding students information and having them regurgitate it on tests and the other is analyzing and applying information. High school has been bogged down by standardized tests and test preparations that bear no resemblance to a professor-made test. In one, bureaucrats dictate what everyone learns across the nation, and the other, experts in their fields decide what their class will learn.

A high school test covers one or two chapters of a textbook. A college test covers half a book. A high school student might have to write four 4-page essays in a year. A college student writes that many per class. I had a course where every two weeks I had to memorize 30 Hindi terms and explain abstract Eastern theological concepts in an essay.

Most importantly, there’s nobody to bother students for not doing work. There’s no solid consequences to missing class, showing up late or not going to tests. Just the knowledge that they’re wasting money. The desire to succeed is the only worthwhile motivation. I once didn’t do a term paper, and the professor simply said, “I can’t believe you didn’t do that.”

College requires students to balance an unparalleled amount of freedom with an unparalleled amount of stressful work without having any direct accountability or consequences. The coddling nature of high school is the polar opposite.

High school prepares a student for the real world just fine: short on free time, have to get up uncomfortably early, lots of busy work, overabundance of drama, and enforcement of unnecessary rules.

College is something different. It’s a four-to-five year alternate reality where a student can be drunk four days a week, go to bed at 3 a.m., show up unshaven in sweatpants, live off of ramen noodles, Oreos, and beer, and be doing excellent in life. Nothing a high school does can prepare someone for that.

Basically, I don’t see any reason to not reward students by letting them sleep or smoke (because many seniors are 18 and can smoke if they want to) simply because there’s nothing better for them to do. If anything, missing two classes and slacking senior year better prepares students for the existential wasteland that is college.

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