Change your mindset

AP+prep+books+pile+up+on+a+student%27s+desk.

Varshini Ramanathan

AP prep books pile up on a student’s desk.

Divya Sambathkumar, Co-Managing Editor

I sat at my desk, cluttered with all the homework, textbooks, and notebooks for my classes, feeling burnt out and frankly, frustrated that this was how I was spending my senior year. I submitted all college applications, so I didn’t see a point in trying at school. 

This realization struck me with such embarrassment. Did I really spend the last four years of high school, taking rigorous courses and working hard, just to submit an application? 

Growing up, I had an insatiable curiosity for all things science. At school, anything related to science sent an inexplicable sense of excitement and wonder through me. This curiosity was not something I thought would falter as I grew up, but I was unfortunately wrong. 

In high school, I took AP Biology with a fraction of the excitement I had for STEM when I was younger. There were times in class when I was genuinely interested and curious about the topics we were learning, but that curiosity soon transformed into concerns about my GPA, college, and just the future in general. I was so caught up in preparing for the future that I lost the motivation to learn. I lost the ability to enjoy the feeling of learning. 

This same experience repeated itself in so many other classes I took over the last four years. There were times when the thrill I felt as a child re-emerge, but almost immediately, it would transform into the mindset that I believe many Westford Academy students are unfortunately subject tothe mindset that education is solely to get a good GPA, get into college, develop a stable career,  and make enough money to support a family. Because of this mentality, my days turned into a never-ending cycle of going to school, coming home, doing homework, studying, and going to bed. I always thought “will this be on the test?” and never “this is so interesting to learn.” 

I lost the spark I once had because I was working towards a goal that I believed I had to chase, but not a goal that I actually wanted to pursue.

This is not how education should be. 

Now, I can go on a long rant about how the education system should change, but I’ll stick to what we students can do to break out of this frustrating mindset we have been forced into. 

If I could go back to my freshman year, I would tell myself to live in the present to genuinely enjoy what I learned instead of labeling education as something solely for the future. I would tell myself to try all the classes and courses that I genuinely thought sounded interesting. Maybe I could have tried new clubs such as the photography club or Model UN. Maybe I could have tried different electives such as creative writing or movie-making. 

My advice for all high school students would be to take this time to think about what you truly want to get out of your learning experience. Try to remove yourself from this mindset we have been forced into and look at it from your eyesone that is true to your passions, wants, and definitions of success. Redefine what education means to you to move forward. 

When choosing classes your freshman and sophomore year, you may not have much control over what courses you can take, but try to find pieces of those classes that make you feel excited. Use that excitement to motivate yourself. And as you enter your junior and senior years, really ask yourself if the classes you chose are what you truly want to take. If you are genuinely passionate about what you learn, your grades will improve and you will succeed in the future without putting yourself through so much mental stress.

Of course, it is easier to say “feel passionate about what you learn” than to emotionally change the cause of your motivation. But by slowly changing your mindset, I truly do believe you can change the next four years of your life for the better.