One Question One Book Initiative |
One Question Grant |
As Thomas Jefferson students, we are provided with great opportunities. We are surrounded daily by some of the smartest high schoolers in the country, all driven towards the same goal of learning. We are given millions of dollars worth of equipment to help us expand the boundaries of research. We are given the responsibility and freedom of adults from our teachers, knowing that we student have our best academic interests in mind. With these resources at our disposal, it seems that all TJ students are destined for nothing but success.
However, with all this opportunity comes intense pressure. Most of us have felt this pressure to succeed academically prior to attending TJ, but high school has inflated that pressure to a considerably higher magnitude. Instead of doing well for the sake of doing well, we find ourselves driven by the pressures of our parents, extended family, friends, and the stretched expectations of what a TJ student should be.
As a result, students are loading up on AP classes in attempts for a higher GPA and a stronger resume. While it’s essential to challenge yourself, many students suffocate under their immense workloads, hurting not only their GPAs but their mental and physical health. It’s the status quo for a TJ student to stay up past midnight studying, falling way short of the National Sleep Foundation’s optimal “9 ¼ hours of sleep” for teenagers.
While a common TJ student mantra is the “work now, play later,” it’s imperative for TJ students to understand that there is no specific time in their lives when they are officially deemed successful. Students need to make sure they are not deluded by transitory academic success and instead focus on building friendships and making memories that will last long after their academic careers are over.
This question was influenced by The Last Lecture, a book by Carnegie Mellon computer science professor Randy Pausch who was diagnosed with fatal pancreatic cancer. His final lecture was titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” One of his main points, at the very end of his lecture, was that if you live your life the right way, have fun all the time, take advantage and fully appreciate every opportunity given to you, your dreams will come to you. If he can still enjoy and take advantage of life with death in the immediate future, why can’t we enjoy and take full advantage of life with a mere test in the future?
We constantly hear about the importance for adults to maintain a healthy life-work balance. This struggle does not begin after you graduate from college and enter the working world, but rather, we face that same dilemma as students at TJ. Ultimately, our time at TJ will not be graded on the basis of the number of A’s we received or AP credits we’ve gained. Instead, our measure of success of our four years at TJ should be not only the lessons we have learned from our teachers but from our friends, our family, our community, and our world at large.