Editor’s Note: ‘Tis the trendy season for trends, to reflect on 2015 and to make bold predictions about what next year may hold. So we asked teachers, entrepreneurs—even students—to share their outlooks on education, but with a twist. They’ve framed their thoughts as responses to some of the finest college application essay prompts—yes, the very same ones that high school seniors are feverishly working on now!
Here’s what Audrey Mullen, a freshman at San Jose's Presentation High School, had to say.
Writing prompt: If you were offered the role of the villain or the hero in a movie, which role would you accept and why?
Dear Admissions Director,
I am on an adventure through the treacherous and and deadly world known as high school. I have encountered wonders and adventures, as well as dangers I never expected. You have surely heard about the rainbows and sunshines of high school. I’m here to tell you about the other side. A place of obstacles and terrors. I have identified the challenges of my education experience and compare them to movie villains. If ever offered the role of one of these dastardly movie characters, I would deny it in a heartbeat; my only hope is to warn the future generations—both students and teachers—of these villains' evil ways.
Here are the the villains of my education:
Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear from “Toy Story:” You Can’t Learn if You Have to Pee
That cute and completely harmless bear in “Toy Story 3?” The one who is actually one of the most sinister masterminds in history? That was our bathroom policy in middle school English class. Our teacher gave out bathroom passes. Which was fine until we learned those passes were worth extra credit if we returned them unused at the end of the semester. It was a classic Lots-o’ villain situation. What seemed so friendly was truly diabolical. Minute by minute, honor students crossed their legs tighter and tighter until they could no longer hear the teacher or see the textbooks. Do I run for the restroom or go for those 5 extra points? The only thing I learned was how long I could hold it.
Scar From “Lion King:” Heartbreak of the Pride, the Tragedy of Not Switching Seats
First period, the dreaded class. Not because the teacher is bad or the class is boring. But because as I look across the room I see all of my friends seated together. But not me. My assigned seat turns me into Scar looking out from his cave towards the top of Pride Rock and all he wants is to be over there. That’s what turned him into a villain. And I’m thinking cunning and mean thoughts about how to dethrone one of my friends and take her seat. Class seating is very important. It decides the hierarchy. Where you get assigned determines who you are partnered with, how well you will do on projects, whether you get grades great enough for Harvard. Don’t turn students into animals! Change up the seating chart.
That Iceberg in the “Titanic:” The Stress of College Sinks My Boat
“I need a higher GPA.” “Do colleges look at grades from freshman year?” “How many extracurriculars do I need to look well rounded?” “Is it normal to sleep only 4 hours?” The stress is overwhelming. It seems small on the surface, but it is so much deeper. You can see it coming, but never know how big it is until you hit it. It’s out there waiting for you, a big cold villain with no heart. You can try to meditate or do yoga to try to keep things in perspective, but it isn’t always so simple. I can’t always figure out how to get rid of an iceberg. It’s not easily beaten, as Leonardo DiCaprio will tell you from the bottom of the ocean. I think the best thing to do is to steer around it and put it in the rear view mirror.
Swiper from “Dora the Explorer:” Teachers, Stop Swiping Our Class Time
“Swiper, no swiping!” It’s the phrase I want to shout every time I am assigned busy work. It takes away the time and opportunity to get real learning done. Trust me, students always know when it’s coming. We’re just like Dora the Explorer, who always knows when Swiper is about to steal. The good teachers try to avoid busy work, but the bad teachers...well, busy work is what they mostly assign. What’s busy work? It’s an assignment that’s neither productive or constructive. It’s one of the greatest evils in school. We’re all Doras, and all we want is to explore new things. Swiper needs to get lost.
Prince Hans from “Frozen:” Class Is Easy but Tests Are Impossible, Don’t Be a Hans
Prince Hans is the unexpected antagonist of "Frozen" who betrays Anna at her weakest. My love for teachers who make their tests 10,000x harder than the class work is not an open door. If the class work and homework is easy, I assume the test will be as well. That is our unspoken agreement, right? But when the test is completely different than the previous work, when it comes up as all kinds of insanely hard questions, it destroys students like sun blasting a snowman in July. Teachers: Don’t go all Prince Hans and turn against me when I am my weakest. Be consistent. Pick hard or easy, and stick to one. Don't be both.