Is being an “average” student good enough anymore?

Anna Hoffman, Editor-in-Chief

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I, like many other teenagers, have asked myself the pestering question, “am I good enough?” more than I would ever like to admit. Now that I am a senior, I wonder this more and more as I stress over college applications. As I continue to go through this stress, I notice my peers experiencing similar worries. The future is unknown, which is a terrifying reality.

At the heart of my concern is the worry that I don’t stand out enough to colleges. One thing I’ve heard time and time again from admission representatives and websites on tips for college applications is to make yourself stand out. Usually this is done through essays, but colleges also focus heavily on transcripts and test scores. There’s nothing particularly wrong with my grades, scores, or my currently in-progress application essay, but I fret that, academically, I am too similar to so many other teenagers in the exact same position as me. What I feel, honestly, is that I’m too average.

Within this concern, a secondary question popped up in my mind: “why would it be bad to be average?” I truly know it isn’t detrimental to be average, but I wonder if being an average student is good enough for success in life, or if it will hold me or others back. In this day and age, it seems only the most successful people get recognition.

So, is being an average student really good enough?

Before discussing this, it is vital to clarify what an average student looks like. In the United States, the average ACT score for 2016 was 21.  These scores may seem high to some, but to Minnetonka High School, these are low compared to our  averages. The class of 2018 averaged a 27 on the ACT (as of the end of their junior year). This means–and this is crucial– an average student at MHS already do well above average.

There is no better man in this school to talk about college or life after MHS than with Phil Trout, MHS’s very own college counselor. So, I went directly to him and asked for his thoughts about being an average student.

Mr. Trout stressed that there will always be above average students, below average students, and just average students in anything anyone does. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though.

When asked if he worries about students with a low GPA, Mr. Trout says, “I don’t. I worry about the student who is trending downward.”

It does not matter if your GPA is 1.9 or 2.5 or 4.0, what everyone should worry about is doing the best they can. That’s what matters.

Before I or anyone goes to college we have to go through classes, tests, and life at MHS.

Laura Herbst, our school’s accelerated learning coordinator, works with many students to choose courses that are right for them.

When talking with Mrs. Herbst, I was happily surprised by how important she believes it is for students to be in appropriate classes for themselves versus classes that might look good on college applications.  She also believes in balance. A balanced life, for some, does not always include the “above average” classes like AP or IB courses.

If you’re worrying, like me, about test scores or other standardized ways of rating students, don’t. As Mrs. Herbst says, “Of course we have to quantify things for college entrance requirements and those sorts of things but when we’re talking about people, their lives and their futures, it’s so much more about character and who they are and the kind of person they want to be and that looks different for every single person.”

I am grateful for my own achievements, yet I feel so much pressure to be the best, and anything less than best is not sufficient. This pressure is felt by anyone at any academic level  which is important to remember. No matter where you stand academically, do not judge others based on their academics.

We are not defined by our grades. We are not defined by our GPAs. We are not people defined by how many medals, chords, and special tassels we end up having at graduation. We are defined by our characteristics. Whether these characteristics are tied to academics or not, it doesn’t matter. We are who we are and grades are only a small portion of who we are as students. There’s more to life than just school (but don’t slack–that’s not cool)

So to answer my question: Screw being average or not average. It doesn’t matter. What matters is you.

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