I sit in the literacy center of Prairie Ridge High School, a room deep within the library, on the last period of the last day of my junior year of high school. I just got back from my AP US History final, which wasn’t really a final exam, but a discussion of the most influential topics we learned about this school year. All my classes except one being advanced placement courses, I had one of the most relaxed finals weeks out of everyone in the building – I had two final exams, one of which was an open-note, open-book, open-classmate test, while other students took, on average, five to seven actual full-blown finals with Scantrons and soft-graphite pencils. During this time, I instead talked with friends, played games on my laptop and in the computer lab with friends, played catch in the gym with friends, and slept (without friends). This being the last time I’m in literacy center at Prairie Ridge for another summer (and potentially the last time ever, as the literacy center might be shut down and replaced by something else due to underusage), I decided to do something in the literacy center that I’ve never done before, which defeated the purpose of ever being here in the first place. I decided to write.
My junior year has been one of the most unpredictable years that I’ve experienced. My second year at Prairie Ridge High School and my first year back from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, I assumed that I knew everything that was going on. I predicted that my junior year would be twice as easy as my freshman year, and ten times as easy as my sophomore year. Coming back into the school from a gifted academy, I expected to already know everything that I would learn. I expected my junior year to be a repeat of my sophomore year, just on an easier level. During my registration and confirmation of returning to Prairie Ridge, I enrolled myself in straight Advanced Placement classes except for my foreign language. I was told that I would be able to pass all the AP exams with just the information I was taught at IMSA. Overconfident, I loaded my schedule with classes, and even gave myself a lunch only three periods a week.
Within the first few days of school, I was bored out of my mind. All we were doing was going over class expectations, and it seemed like I already heard this talk a hundred times before. I was so bored that I even started pondering the meaning of life. The little that we did learn in these first few days, I had already been taught at the beginning of my sophomore year. I started wondering if I should have instead enrolled in courses at the local community college instead of wasting my time sitting in these pathetic classes in this pathetic high school.
I failed my first AP Calculus BC test.
The symptoms were clear. I overestimated my capabilities as a student. I overestimated my intelligence. I plain overestimated who I was. My first calculus test wasn’t the only sign either – I was doing poorly overall. I was not seeing As on assignments I knew I could do perfectly without effort. But I just couldn’t snap out of the trance I had put myself into. My poor quality work continued throughout the quarter, and further into the semester. When I was half-way done with the year, I was nowhere I wanted to be in my academic standing. The excessive workload in AP Chemistry along with my laziness caused me to turn over half my assignments in late, receiving only half the amount of points I would normally get on them. I swear, my AP Chemistry teacher saw me as a failure, and the most unstereotypical Asian that ever walked on the planet. I think that overtime, she got used to it, but I’m pretty sure she still saw me as a failure.
It took me three-fourths of the year to finally wake up.
The last quarter of my junior year went as desired (except for AP Chem). I started getting steady As on homework and tests, and I felt as if I was performing much better overall. But it was too late. The miserable work I did really added up, and made my GPA plummet. As I prepare college applications, I know that these couple hundred days of my high school career changed my life forever. Now I have to live with what my laziness brought me, and I obviously have to live with the consequences. My words of advice? Don’t believe in yourself. And whatever you do, never overestimate yourself.