As a junior in high school, it can seem nearly impossible to go through a day without being interrogated about something somewhat affiliated with college. The entire educational system has transformed into a battle for As and utter agony over GPAs. As students, we’ve come to dread junior year, but once it’s over, we proceed to count down the days until our graduation. Then, when we reflect on our high school career, we begin to question why we constantly wished away those now expired four years of our lives.

Although you may not realize it, high school is just as important, if not more important, than college. It is the foundation of your education, where you gain intrinsic skills for learning and refine your innate aptitudes. High school can teach you an infinite amount of life lessons such as how to attain an A in gym class or excel in every academic class, though most people cannot see it from this position. Without those years you wouldn’t be able to write a diplomatic email, use a graphing calculator, or figure out how to cram for a test in one night-and manage to pass.

Nowadays, kids seem to disparage the worth of a high school education by racing through their own just to get into an arduous, yet prominent college. The sort of mechanical fashion which students employ in order to graduate establishes the belief that the primary concern of a high school student should be grades. Consequently, this unnecessary adaptation to high school diminishes the importance of actual learning.

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Apparently, everyone is trying to stay a step ahead of themselves, and in doing so have mastered the ability of negligence. Students pay no attention to the present day and discount the fact that high school is just as much about disclosing your identity as college is. Education has become the fight for the highest average as much as joining clubs has become less about interests and more about your transcript.

The scrutiny of grades, the unnecessarily high levels of stress, and the sundry of standardized tests cloud our awareness of the present. Sometimes it seems as though you’re completely overextended, without a minute to rest, and somehow these were the “four best years” of your parents’ lives. Before tutoring for the SATs or AP exams even began, there were aspects of high school which were enjoyable, and this is true for most of your parents. These qualities have not entirely been lost, but we tend to overlook these concepts.

It can be difficult to figure out what you’ll succeed at, or where you would be most content, but those are the fundamental aspects of discovering your identity. It’s easy to envy those who have their lives planned out in front of them, and then continue to contrive countless reasons explaining the pointlessness of our own high school education. Although, I think this is the sole reason why we all wish we were in college. We ignore the amount of growth we undergo throughout our high school years, and intentionally rush through them.

The unnecessary haste of your high school years only leads you to discover college isn’t a breeze either, and once there, you probably still don’t know what you would like to spend the rest of your life doing. When you’re in high school, this perception isn’t always attainable, but frankly college is merely the addition of another four plus years to your education. However, this time, you’ll be hours away from home and without your family or friends for support.

So, take that philosophy course you disregarded junior year because it wasn’t AP or maybe form a club that isn’t already offered at your school. These are the years that you will remember from your education and you want to make them memorable. Nothing is worse than wishing you had when you never did. Perhaps if you focused more on the positives of high school, not just the summers off or the holiday vacations, but actually the educational aspect, you would understand what you enjoy most and would like to pursue further.

Maybe you shouldn’t worry about what your college major will be or where the best school for that undefined major is, but think about the present, and don’t lose track of the importance of high school. Don’t put off what you love the most because college is later, and high school is now. So, what did you do when you were in high school?

Danielle Pinney is a student at Westfield High School.