Sacrifices for a Better Future-Emily Munoz

High school is a very stressful time for all students. Balancing seven classes, friends, homework, extracurricular activities, and a good amount of sleep is a daunting task for us. However, students who push beyond just the average qualifications seem to be flying under the radar. Parents and even peers can find it difficult to understand the monumental sacrifices students must make to be the top of their class. It’s important to recognize not only the academic marks a student has, but the process involved in making it to that grade.
Many people are unable to fathom the hours students spend on homework and quizzes. Sitting at a computer or in front of a textbook for this long is a necessary evil many students face in order to achieve good grades. Many students in the honors and AP program dream of being at the top of their class, but few actually accomplish it. Having a goal in mind is an easy task, but being disciplined enough to execute all of the steps it takes to actually get there is a different story. Motivation and self-determination play major roles in a student’s quest to be the best that they can. However, four years is a long time, and being valedictorian is a long-term goal. Working for it might seem like a never ending task with big sacrifices and little to show in between, so this can discourage students from actually trying and pushing themselves toward this goal. The few that are able to work for four years and find a way to push through should be given more recognition for their work ethic and sacrifices that they make along the way.
Being an AP student myself, I wanted to see how my peers in the higher ranks were able to achieve the level of success they were at. I sat down with the top two students in my junior class to ask them how hard it really is to be the best of the best. To my surprise, their answers and approach to a hectic schedule were very different. For the purpose of this article I will refer to them as Audrey and Nick. Audrey has three AP classes and Nick has four AP classes. They both agree that the benefits to the classes are the college credit incentive and the GPA point. Nick did not see any drawbacks of taking the harder, more time consuming classes, while Audrey pointed out that she has to give up a social life in order to have good grades. When asked what exactly students need to give up to be successful, she had a lot to say. Prioritizing work through sacrificing family events, time with friends, and even sleep is how she stays on the top. When Nick was asked what they had to give up they responded with “nothing at all”. The stark contrasts in their answers took me aback, but after further thinking, I understood. Some students have to give up more, and some are able to give up less and still maintain the same amount of achievement. The sacrifices are minimal yet, extremely necessary to be the best out of their peers. Motivation was another thing I chose to question the students about. Aubrey has been motivated since freshman year to try the hardest they could, so slacking off now would be wasted time. Nick said that they did not need to be motivated, they see the work in front of them and just get it done. This go getter attitude should be credited to Nick’s personality. He seems to be someone who doesn’t give up. To him, being lazy is not even an option. Both students agreed that many peers do not seem to understand the workload and many of them try to downplay the work of AP students. When explaining how much work they have to do, students can think they are over exaggerating. “It can’t be that bad.” “It’s not even that much,” are some of the responses I’ve heard while taking these classes.
Both students brought interesting points to their interviews. In the end, I learned that some people’s journeys to success are very different. The climb to be the best has different roads and methods of transport. One thing we can all agree on is some kind of sacrifice has to be made to be the best of the best.

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