Prompt : Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
Attending a well-respected private school in sunny, beautiful Orange County sounds like the perfect way to spend high school years. While I have been very fortunate to live in an affluent area and attend an amazing high school, with this privilege comes great pressure. Santa Margarita Catholic High School is a community filled with intelligent students with big dreams for their futures. Being surrounded by driven people has helped me to stay motivated, but it has also taught me to stay true to myself – not to step on the toes of others on my journey to success.
When I first came to Santa Margarita, I quickly realized that this was much different from my middle school. I was no longer one of the smartest girls at my school; so many students were academically gifted. At first, this made me feel disappointed because I knew I was not a stand out student. But, by the time I finished my freshman year I discovered that being surrounded by gifted students was actually helping me greatly. Because almost all of my peers cared about succeeding academically, it pushed me to continue to invest time and energy into my schoolwork. While there are countless distractions in high school, most of my peers were willing to sacrifice social activities, time with family and friends, and sleep in order to maintain good grades. This positive environment filled with goal-driven students reminded me every day to stay focused. I also learned that I should work towards what I desire to accomplish, not towards pleasing my parents or teachers. Santa Margarita has helped me to have a strong work-ethic and positive attitude that will help me in the future.
While my high school provided countless benefits to me, there is a downside to attending a school with so many bright students. At the beginning of my junior year I started to notice tension in a few of my classes. The stress of a heavy work load along with the beginning thoughts of college was clearly affecting some of us. My peers were trying to do whatever it took to outperform each other. In my biology class, I was confused on a portion of a lab so I asked the lab table next to me, and they refused to help me. In my English class, students would cut each other off during discussions in order to try to earn more participation points. The school environment began to feel much more stressful and uptight than I was used to. In addition to the difficulties of classes is the pressure to go to a great college. At Santa Margarita, college is not a goal, it is a given. 98% of the class of 2009 enrolled in college, with 78% to four-year schools and only 20% to community colleges. For many of my peers, getting into their school of choice is by far the most important thing in their world. And sadly, not everyone is happy for someone once they are admitted to a school. Some students are jealous of those who have been accepted to prestigious schools. But, these difficulties are very similar to those in the real world. Not everybody is going to help me when I struggle and be happy for me when I succeed.
Santa Margarita has opened up so many doors for me to learn and grow as a student and a person. Although I was originally upset by the competitive nature of my fellow students, I now realize it has prepared me for life beyond high school. I know that those who I work with in the future may be willing to try to knock me down in order to get ahead. Through my experiences at a competitive high school I have shaped a goal for myself. I hope to develop as a person who can achieve my dreams without knocking others down in my journey through life.