Proving Our Worth Through Numbers

Emily Obermeyer, Staff Writer

Two numbers. Two numbers that some individuals believe can make or break a student’s future. Two numbers people are always talking about. Two numbers that seem to be always on a student’s mind at home, work, practice. Two numbers: GPA and your SAT score.

I don’t think that every student should be forced to fit into some mold that we have.”

— Kyle Perkins

“There are very high expectations in this building,” FHC counselor Kyle Perkins said. “I think there is a pressure to live up to a stereotypical standard that is maybe not a healthy standard for all students. I don’t think that every student should be forced to fit into some mold that we have.”

FHC tends to have a community of very well accomplished students, but there is one common thread that tends to tie together this vastly differing population: all students believe that they must live up to the high academic standards set by other students. With these high standards, someone who is performing average in a class can feel less than, due to the success of those excelling in that class. SAT scores are often compared to see if a student has their head above the water or is drowning in a sea filled with others wrongly labeled ‘below average’ students. In order to get these high scores, some tend to sacrifice a their sanity to prove their worth.

The number that affects all students in all grades is their GPA. No matter if you are a freshman or a senior, there is a very large emphasis placed on a student’s GPA. Many students tend to strive for a 4.0 in a schedule filled with honors and AP classes. With such rigorous schedules both in school and at home, it can raise a concern. AP World History teacher Kristin Chadderdon tends to be concerned with the large weight academics can hold on someone.

“I get concerned about students that take multiple AP tests,” Chadderdon said, “and put all of that pressure on themselves to just be so academically focused.”

However, if GPA isn’t enough pressure, juniors and seniors often feel obligated to do well on the SAT. Furthermore, with the recent change from ACT to SAT, students have feel more pressure to do well on standardized tests. 

“The big frustration that we had heard [from students and families]was that they had been preparing all along for ACT,” Perkins said. “For their whole high school career, [it all was] leading up to that. Then, the switch was made throwing them into the SAT. Justifiably, it didn’t seem fair. and I don’t blame them for that.”

This year, the FHC staff is hoping for an improvement with the experience on the SAT.

“We’re hopeful for this year that it’s a little smoother,” Perkins said. “Even [in] some of the meetings we’ve been in with The College Board, they’ve acknowledged that last year did not go very smoothly. So, they’ve made some changes and set some things in place.”

While SAT scores are important piece of the college process, they’re not everything. Why do students tend to treat them as such? SAT scores do not determine a whole student’s future, even though it is often believed to be so. However, staff members know that SAT is not the only thing that will change the future.

“I would never say it totally reflects a student,” Perkins said. “It reflects a small portion. I think it shows what they can do on a standardized test in a timed environment, which is pretty stressful, but it doesn’t show what they can do over a long period of time in a classroom or how they can adapt and work with other people. It shows an aspect, but it does not show a student as a whole.”

Chadderdon also agrees that the SAT does not capture every area of a student’s potential.

“[A student] might be much better in applying their knowledge in the real world than the student who can pass a test,” Chadderdon said. “I do see why they’re important. It gives you a number, and it gives you data. It’s a way to sort people with numbers, but I don’t think it’s necessarily that accurate.”

There are multiple other factors that determine if a student will get into a certain college, including extracurriculars and other accomplishments. Many staff members, including Perkins and others, believe that a healthy mix of academics and extracurriculars can make a student stand out to colleges.

While most students believe the SAT score determines who a student is, that is not the case.  Junior Irene Yi has taken different standardized tests, including the SAT and ACT, multiple times. This past summer, she performed exceptionally well and managed to earn a very high score on her SAT, but Irene believes that your SAT score does not determine everything about a student’s ability. A SAT score is just a number, and not a reading of a person.

“You’re at the testing center one Saturday morning,” Irene said. “That’s how you do one Saturday morning out of your entire high school career. I feel like you can’t get an idea of someone’s work ethic and how smart they are based on one standardized test.”

While these numbers of GPA and SAT are important, a student should remember that how you do in school does not define your worth as a person. In order to be successful in this day and age, there are many qualities that tests cannot simply measure. There are many other things in high school that need to be enjoyed while they last. With most students being extremely busy, a healthy schedule is necessary to keep students level headed and stable.

“It does come down to balancing your time and building down time,” Perkins said. “Time to go for a walk outside, watch a movie,  read a book,  or hang out with friends [should be built into a student’s time]. Not sacrificing that time is very important for concentrating fully on academics.”

There are so many things that students should not have to miss because of academic stress. The high expectations set by others and yourself should not take this much of a toll on your personal life.

“School is part of your life,” Chadderdon said. “I don’t think it should be your whole life.”