Accepting The Silver Lining

Being on the top can be a desirable trait until being on top turns to too much. The golden standard of society can put pressure on students and often times people forget it is acceptable to be the silver standard.

A standard education begins with matching the correct time to the arms on the clock or subtracting single digit numbers. Now, a student is expected to find the standard deviation of the amount of cells in an oak leaf. For years there used to be a time when walking into school was joyful, but for high school students, the stress to accomplish multiple clubs and sports while maintaining adequate grades. As a society, there is an idea that in order to be successful a person must complete rigorous courses, be in various clubs, a medalist in a sport and have semi-good looks.

Teachers and parents urge students to take multiple Advanced Placement and Honors classes because the idea of taking these classes places students on a gold pedestal. The golden standard has been idolized for years, but the concept that every student should be golden is taboo.

The Golden Grades

For years, awards have been thrown out left and right for students who excel in multiple facets of school. The different obstacles students deal with on a daily basis are commonly dismissed. Each year parents say that hard work equals success, but for some, trying hard is working multiple jobs to help pay for their car while barely making assignment deadlines. The end goal is to achieve A’s and B’s in advanced courses and for senior Megan Trusky, the pressure has been following her all her life.

“My family definitely pressures me to achieve good grades,” Trusky said. “That mindset has put a lot of stress on me and sometimes I hit a breaking point.”

A common goal of parents is to see their child become successful coming out of high school. Each student has different abilities, whether it is in the arts, sciences or maths. Those who achieve the golden standard have excelled in each category of life in order to go further, and this has only been proven through the opportunities students receive towards higher education.

“Being in the gold standard means getting into college is a lot easizzer,” Trusky said. “If they are not in the gold standard they will have a harder time getting into college.”

Having a gold standard mentality of wanting to be the perfect specimen is a topic that often isolates much of the student body. Current social studies teacher Katherine Olson believes the gold standard puts a lot of pressure on students.

“Sometimes I think it would be better for kids to take regular classes,” Olson said. “It is hard to know a student’s limits, only a student can know.”

The internal pressure to be the best that one can be is something that lead to severe stress and worry. Senior Emily Luc is in multiple clubs while balancing challenging courses.

“Sometimes it’s super hard,” Luc said. “When times are tough you just want to give up, but you have to keep going because you don’t want your future to be crushed.”

The gold standard teaches that if a student fails or does not join a club they cannot go far, but in reality their self perseverance and determination is what selects a student’s post-education distance.

Being Second Place

Each day people grow older and the past stays in the past. What people remember others by is how they took their coffee or how vibrant a person was in the darkest times. Being a millionaire and number one isn’t always the best goal for an individual. Senior Emily Luc has learned a lesson or two about the idolized gold standard.

“It is okay to be second sometimes,” Luc said. “Because there are always going to be people out there who are going to be better than you.”

Each student has different abilities and oftentimes the gold standard overgeneralizes what those abilities should be. Young children are trained to be the best quality they can, but in reality the best quality is who the individual wants to be. As a mother, Olson is aware of how valuable life is and playing a sport or ace-ing a test is irrelevant if a person is not happy.

“Happiness should definitely be based on life satisfaction,” Olson said.

Life satisfaction was twisted into the current standards young people believe is good. However, in this day and age, happiness is generalized as performing well in school. Happiness can be helping the family out at home, or following the family business. Pursuing the top is only valuable if the top is what is best for someone’s situation. Teachers and parents often knockdown students for not being the gold standard.

“Teachers will reward kids for being successful [on tests or athletics],” Trusky said.

“Then they turn around and shame kids for being unsuccessful.”

As a society, receiving the gold medal is honored and those who perform well on a test are placed above the rest. This idea of only rewarding students with higher achievements is detrimental to those who are struggling. This is why the gold standard of education is more harmful than beneficial. Ideas are placed in front of students and they grow up only focusing on those goals, but each student is individually different in their abilities. What students should realize is not their abilities, but rather on their capabilities; what students can achieve if the effort is put forth.

“Be careful of what you consider as a gold standard,” Luc said. “Because it might not always be the best for you.”

Taking the step down and bending the knee to others does not change an individual’s value. When a person walks off the podium, the gold medal always weighs more than the silver medal; in the end both medals sit on the same leveled shelf.