High School Is Over

There comes a time, right before high school graduation, when every student finally receives that swarm of university letters and they realize what it ...

Mar 1, 2014

There comes a time, right before high school graduation, when every student finally receives that swarm of university letters and they realize what it was all for. As they stressfully read through the many cordial hellos and thank yous, no longer do their Physical Education teacher’s rants about how important sports are make absolutely no sense; it was all for college applications. Admittedly, some people, myself included, might just like doing sports, but realistically the average high school student probably puts in extra work, not for their personal satisfaction, but to get into the university of their dreams. Universities love a well-rounded student. Students here at NYU Abu Dhabi are the best of the best; they listened to the endless lectures their teachers gave them about the importance of community service and were probably tricked into joining that club they eventually spent four years in because they really had nothing better to do anyway. Although high school is over, the many extracurricular activities continue at NYU Abu Dhabi — the only problem is that the competitiveness needs to stop.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the involved student as much as anyone does, but when the only conversations one overhears as they rush to their favorite spot in the Downtown Campus Garden include the words internship, committee or overload, it is obvious that something is a little off. Students may agree that the following are questions that they have come across, at least once, during their time here — whether they received or asked them:
“You’re not doing sports this semester?”
“You’re wasting your electives on easy courses and not challenging yourself by exploring new fields?”
“You don’t have three internships already lined up for the summer?”
“You go to the beach on weekends instead of spending your Friday doing community service, trying to give back?”
There is a subtle, almost secret competition to be the best at everything. Students at NYUAD are involved with multiple SIGs, have an interview a week, are a member of at least one committee, will probably run for some sort of election during the time period of their college-career and have an almost sacred weekly ritual of attending lectures and debates over issues that interest “the global citizen.” There’s nothing wrong with taking a Saturday off or having an afternoon free. Take a break. Seek comfort in a warm cup of tea outside the boundaries of Electra Street.
If a student finds himself in a class for the sole reason of a chance at a summer internship with the professor, drop it. Find better reasons for all those extracurricular activities: join a SIG to explore, get an internship to grow — don’t sign up for the free food or the extra point on your CV. I am not encouraging students to isolate themselves from all things Student Life-related, but to acknowledge that there is no competition; there is nothing to prove. There is no point in juggling five courses and an internship if the only end goal is the ability to brag about it. Find what makes you happy and do it for that reason alone. High school is over. The need to excel for the sake of excelling should no longer exist.
Jood Shiquem is a contributing writer.  Email her at
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