Teachers vs. Students

May 12, 2016

The last 2:20 bell is about to ring, and summer is on the minds of many – but for the seniors thoughts of graduation and college buzz through their thoughts. The idea of leaving the doors of Francis Howell Central for the last time is not only liberating, but terrifying. High school is all we’ve known for the past four years and being thrown into something entirely different without anyone to lean back on is enough to make a kid wish for freshman year all over again.

I know some people are so ready to move on out of here and explore all the world has to offer them, but I’m quite honestly terrified. Francis Howell Central has become my home, it’s the only school I’ve been at for more than three years without moving, and thinking of this place gives me the warm fuzzies, as cliche as it sounds. I love the people here, the teachers that have fostered my growth and development through the years, I’m going to miss a lot of it. I’m not asking to have my freshman year back, I had a lot of rough times then. The first day I walked into FHC I sat down in the bathroom and cried right up until the 7:20 bell because of the fear I had of how much things would change, and I wasn’t wrong. Things changed a lot, but I wouldn’t take any of it back. I like who I am. I am proud of the person I have grown into, but there’s more growing to do in college, and high school freshman me feared the same thing as college freshman me is going to: growth. Biology teacher Mr. Patrick Reed had a lot of similar fears that a lot of people have leaving high school when he left high school, and has had time as a teacher in a high school to reflect on those thoughts.

“Well, I mean, it’s the unknown, I mean you see movies on college and tv shows, and you know I was the youngest of five kids, so I had siblings, but I’m a learn by doing experience kind of person,” Mr. Reed said. “When I say fear of the unknown I mean expectations, like I had mastered the high school world. I knew exactly how to study for high school, how to get by, I was doing well, scores were good, blah blah blah, but in college, I had no idea what that looked like –  just the fear of living alone… making my own decisions, it’s empowering and invigorating, but at the same time it’s terrifying, because you’re like ‘I got nothin.’ I don’t have anybody who I can lean back on and do this for me.”

High school is extremely different from college, there’s no question about it. The main question people are dealing with is “am I prepared? Am I ready for the step forward into the unknown?” and sometimes you have no idea. You can prepare and prepare and prepare, and still be totally blindsided by something you never thought to prep for. The only way to really know what to expect is to be thrown into the water, and sorry to say, but no floaties allowed. High school has prepared us, sure, but there’s so much more than tests and your homework in the college world.

“My first semester was very rough, and it became a question of ‘What the heck do these people want, and can I give it to them, and can I succeed?’ That took a while to learn how to play the game so to speak,” Mr. Reed said. “High school, it gave me some skills that I obviously leaned on, and I think that’s what sometimes teachers forget, it’s not always content based, I needed to realize how to meet deadlines, I needed to learn how to meet expectations, I needed to learn that tests are important, and studying is a thing. I know high school is important for those, but as far as what did I learn in high school, I couldn’t tell you, except for science – other classes, I don’t know – but in college I could… [in college] I just learned how to be a person.”

College is the chance for you to recreate yourself. You are surrounded by people you have never met in your life, and maybe a few near and dear friends, but there’s nothing stopping you from changing yourself. No parents telling you how to spend your Friday nights, nobody has any preconceived notions of you or has heard anything from some ridiculous rumour that spread around the school within minutes of you making a joke to a friend. You are a blank slate and it is your chance to pick up the paintbrush and create the masterpiece you’ve always wanted for yourself. There’s no rush to rebuild, but when given the chance it’s almost silly not to take it. If you love yourself the way you are, no one’s stopping you from growing stronger in those things you absolutely adore. Life after high school is truly a major turning point in life, and for once you are in control of how things are handled.

“You guys are now centered around people that you just have the fortune or misfortune of being around, or at least parents have chosen this for you, and in college it’s your choice as to where you go. It’s your choice there as to who you associate with, and that is a powerful thing,” Mr. Reed said. “I grew in college. I became who I am there, I don’t know who that high school kid is, I don’t know who I was, I don’t. I don’t remember him, I don’t fondly think back to him; those years are over…The version that you guys have gotten to know, this me who is now 40, and even college was a long time ago, this version of me is not the high school version of me – it’s the college version. I figured out who I am. College has taught me how to be human.”

Although college is going to be different, or any life after high school, for that matter, there’s some good things that come through change. You can find where you truly belong. There are experiences out there you’ve always wanted to do and you never really got to cross off the elusive High School Bucket List just out there, waiting for you. No one’s going to really judge you for your first time going out without someone familiar or your inexperience with Big Scary College things.

“I would consistently remind myself to not be so worried about what other people think. We say that all the time, but it’s the heart of human emotion and hard to get around that, because everybody is so busy worried about that themselves, and it really doesn’t seem to matter as much, it’s not what you make it out to be, and the commentary, and bullying is a bit too simplistic of a term, but the commentary between kids that makes you feel that way is more pronounced in high school than it is in college, and it’s just no one cares,” Mr. Reed said. “If you have something to offer, if you have fun, if you have niches and hobbies and interests that other people find interesting and they share, then you’re good. You’re going to find those niches, you’ve just gotta look.”

Leaving high school is terrifying, sure. It’s freedom, it’s the ability to stay up until 4 am and eat out of a gallon tub of ice cream, it’s finding new people to calm you down when your world is falling apart at the seams, but it’s here. It’s happening, and we’re going to take it one step at a time.

“You know some people say one of the most awesome things about college is freedom, it’s also incredibly scary. You have to embrace freedom attack it… you try to get as many experiences as you can; you talk to professors, you go to clubs, you find people. You don’t just stay in your room and get upset, you’ve gotta go out, and then it becomes the best time of your life.”

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