The Power of the Resume

Our culture's priorities are ruining us

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The Power of the Resume

Do we view coursework and extra-curriculars merely as source material for our resumes?

Do we view coursework and extra-curriculars merely as source material for our resumes?

photo by Nate Stetson

Do we view coursework and extra-curriculars merely as source material for our resumes?

photo by Nate Stetson

photo by Nate Stetson

Do we view coursework and extra-curriculars merely as source material for our resumes?

By Connor Foran, North Allegheny Senior High School

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Teachers, if you’re looking for an effective hitman, hire a high school student who is flunking your AP class and offer them an A in that class in exchange for their work. It would be done within an hour with no evidence to show for it.

Hyperbole?  Of course, but not without a grain of truth. Recently, The Uproar uploaded a poll asking those surveyed whether or not they would attend the college that their parents got them into unethically. I overheard someone respond to this poll saying, “Yeah. It’s college.” This seems to be the mindset of many high school students — they would do whatever it takes to get into a good college. In other words, the end justifies the means.

You can see it pretty much anywhere in the school. Kids copy each other’s homework and assignments. We take honors classes for subjects we have zero interest in. We volunteer for clubs and activities purely for college credit. We expect an A in a class we never try in. The focus is not on the experience of learning and developing interest in certain subjects; it’s the end result. It’s how it all looks on paper. It’s the sacred resume.

The focus is not on the experience of learning and developing interest in certain subjects; it’s the end result. It’s how it all looks on paper. It’s the sacred resume.”

On a certain level, I do understand the appeal behind preparing for good job opportunities. I’m not so naive to say that we should forget careers and sell sock puppets on the side of the road. That is obviously unrealistic. At a certain level, we are supposed to balance out our passions with what is possible for us and our abilities. But there is something larger at stake than simply being able to do what we love. The American education system has placed its focus not on the experience of learning and trying but on results.

When the focus is put squarely on the resume, what happens between the lines no longer matters to us. When we put our Key Club and NHS memberships on our applications, we don’t include the pressure from other kids, from teachers, and from parents, not to mention the utter disdain at having to work for more hours. All that matters is that colleges think that we are generous and truly concerned with the community, even if we couldn’t care less.

Schools feature AP classes, clubs, and activities so that kids will be motivated to get involved and challenge themselves, when the result couldn’t be further from the goal. We aren’t challenging ourselves — we are whining and grumbling through obligations just so we can get that golden admissions ticket and brandish it for all our friends and neighbors to marvel at. It’s no wonder so many of us have senioritis when the true point of learning was lost on us long ago.

The focus cannot be on the reward. If you reward somebody for doing something, it merely teaches them that rewards are good, and they should do anything they can for that reward. Therefore, we do not seek to challenge ourselves outside of school because we don’t like challenges. We do not seek to learn beyond what’s necessary inside of school because we don’t truly like to learn. And, for some of us, we do not seek to be charitable for the sake of charity but rather ironically for the sake of our own reward.

So, where does it stop? How long can we go on before we admit that there’s a real crisis taking place? When will we realize the misery of a life lived purely for rewards and unlearn what our society has taught us? The answer is right here, right now.

The pressure of grades and success is a hard one to resist. But if we want to live fruitful lives that consist of pursuing our noblest goals and legitimately caring for others, we cannot expect anything in return. If you want to give back, do it. If you want to learn something, do it. Do it because you love it, not because you have to. We are all capable enough to decide for ourselves which is more important — our own values or our culture’s. But if we continue to give in to pressure, we may find ourselves stooping despicably low to satisfy the demands of the resume.

This story was originally published on The Uproar on April 5, 2019.