By Jasmine Lu, Regular Contributor
With less than two weeks until graduation, the seniors of my school have mixed feelings about stepping into the next stage of their life. The idea of leaving the small, close-knit community of our high school is exciting but also slightly terrifying. No more will we be able to sit comfortably with our wide array of friends or strike up a conversation with anyone in our grade. The people we’ve called our high school family for the past few years will no longer be our solid support system.
But as I look on forward toward the upcoming years in college, I’m filled with anticipation for all the new opportunities, all the ways I’ll grow, and most of all, all the different people.
Now, I’ve lived in Southern California most of my life and I went to a high school that was predominantly Asian (over 70%), so going to Duke University in the fall will be quite a change. I’m extremely excited for a change of scenery and to hear from a much wider variety of backgrounds, but I also feel pretty unprepared. My time at Oxford Academy has given me an extremely sheltered environment to thrive in. I’ve been surrounded by students who all plan to go to college and lead successful careers in finance, medicine, or engineering. I’ve never been to a house party or been exposed to drugs/alcohol or had to fend off sexual harassment. And when I hear about the issues other high schools have to deal with, the day to day problems Oxford students like to complain about seem extremely trivial. The idea that some students see becoming pregnant and living off welfare or dealing drugs as the most viable option for their future is appalling, but for many high schools, this is a fairly normal occurrence.
And while I am really anxious about leaving my protective bubble of a high school, I’m still going on to a very elite, private university where I am unlikely to ever experience what some high school students in less wealthy zip codes would have to deal with every day.
I’m never going to know what it feels like to know that half my class is flunking a course because they simply don’t see the point in graduating high school. And I still went to a public school where over sixty percent of our students were on the free lunch program, so I’m considerably less sheltered than some students who have grown up their whole lives in expensive private schools.
The thing that is most appalling is how those that are the most sheltered are more likely to find continuous success in college and then graduate school and so on. The wealthy elite are unlikely to come face to face with the issues facing a public school with a low graduation rate, but they are the ones who are most likely to rise into positions that grant them the power to make the changes needed to solve those issues.
So the question that remains is: how likely are they to prioritize these issues when they haven’t encountered them?
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Jasmine Lu will be attending Duke University in the fall and will be pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering. She has many interests including global health, computer science, and film. You can learn more about how her mind works at her personal blog j-------lu.tumblr.com
image via forcechange.com