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The school doesn’t practice what it preaches

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On my first day at Hayfield in seventh grade, we were all taken into the auditorium for an introduction to the school, staff and what was expected of us now that we were in middle school. I don’t remember much, but there was one thing I do remember as it was so fixed into our minds long before: being our own advocate. When our elementary school teachers warned us about the horrors of middle school, they would reiterate that it was important for us to champion for ourselves. If we want something done or need help, we need to be the ones to say something. When I first heard this, I was ecstatic. For me, it was one of my first tastes of independence and responsibility.

Throughout my first two years at Hayfield, I was fine. I rarely, if ever, needed any help from my counselor. Once I started high school, when grades become part of permanent transcripts, I began to make an effort to become more proactive when I noticed that my classes were going to be more difficult than my preconceived notions. This year, however, was the first year that I really needed help from my counselor with my classes. Since the phrase “be your own advocate” was ingrained into my mind, I tried to meet with my counselor a few weeks before school was out, when I decided to drop honors physics for regular after a rough year in chemistry. After attempting to go my counselor’s office three times to change my class, as well as get a printed and signed copy of my transcript that I needed for a study abroad program for which I was participating, I finally decided to ask my mom to email him and see if that would garner a response from my elusive counselor. After a long wait, he finally replied and was thankfully able to switch my class, but I never received a signed copy of my transcript.

Once I began my junior year, I came to another glaring issue; I realized that honors precalculus was not the best class for me to be taking if I wanted to have a decent GPA, so on the fourth day of school, I went down to my counselor to see what I could do to switch to regular precalculus. I walked out of that brief meeting very discouraged, as he had immediately told me that the only precalculus I could get into was full and that there was nothing he could do to switch me out this late into the year. I went home and relayed the information to my parents who were also anxious to switch me out of honors, and in hearing this, they decided to talk to him and see what they could do. Once my mom went into talk to him, I was switched into the precalculus regular class that I was initially told was full by the end of the next week.

I’m not sure how the school expects us to advocate for ourselves, seeing as though things don’t get done unless our parents are willing to intervene. Why are we encouraged and pushed to be our own advocates if we aren’t going to be listened to? I am by no means the only person that this happens to, as I have heard many stories from friends and classmates who have had similar experience. I know that schedules can be difficult and that it is unrealistic to think that the seven counselors could individually seek out and help each student. However, they should make themselves more accessible to more students. But most importantly, why are parents listened to more than students?

1 Comment

One Response to “The school doesn’t practice what it preaches”

  1. Keith Upah on March 7th, 2018 7:57 am

    This article makes a valid and cogent argument. While we as parents should be actively involved in our children’s educational pursuits, we also owe it to our kids to raise them to be their own best advocates. In this case, it is incumbent on the counselors, regardless to how busy they are, to help parents raise confident, proactive citizens. They should be happy and eager to respond to their students’ requests. I hope this article finds a receptive audience. (Full disclosure – my daughter wrote this article, but I would agree with the opinion being expressed regardless of its authorship.)

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The school doesn’t practice what it preaches