As students across the nation get more and more competitive, school acceptance rates become lower and lower. We now live in a culture where parents dream of different ways to get their students into college. However, a lot of these opportunities are hard to access, especially in the context of the excessively high costs for tuition. Although there are billions of dollars given away in scholarships every year, the question comes down to: where does the scholarship money actually go and are the right students getting them?
Coming from a high school student, active in competing around the nation in debate and taking maximum rigor classes, I often have to ask myself the question: if I want to go to a top-tier college, how would I pay for it? Undoubtedly, I oftentimes become confused when I see my classmates receiving scholarships from top schools around the nation for showing particular successes in sports, like baseball or football. This confusion is only prevalent when I realize that some of my highest achieving academic peers don’t necessarily receive the same opportunities.
On the basis of my personal experience, I will discuss different extracurricular activities offered within my school. If I were to take debate or any other academic-based competitive activity, it surprises me that there seemingly are not as many opportunities to receive scholarships. I’ve went on multiple different financial aid or scholarship search websites and it was exceedingly hard to find a strong source of information for scholarships for Debate . There was a link to a $150,000 tournament, but sadly, it directed me to a non-existent page.
A primary argument I have come across from multiple different students in my school is that academic activities like debate do not require the same time commitment or work that sports require, and that’s why college actively seek out those students. However, those positions are clearly unfounded. I would argue that many of these activities that require significantly more time than every single sport in high school. This is not to undermine the success of individuals participating in sports, but rather to ask a simple question of why academics aren’t as valued by colleges.
Although academics are a large part of many of these scholarships given by colleges for high school students around the nation, it certainly isn’t held to the same standard for merit-based scholarships. As students that are on the First-Team All-District with a 3.0 GPA or so, colleges are seeking those students as early as freshman year. While at the same time, top debaters around the nation with perfect GPAs are not seeing nearly as equal opportunities.
This brings up the question once again. What do colleges truly value in their students? Why are academics so highly praised in our educational system over education itself? The perspective that the system has placed on me is that there is a much greater incentive for our upcoming generation to prioritize excelling in a sport than participating in academically-challenging activities. Seemingly, the paradox of education arises.