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The College Map Controversy

The college map has been a long-loved tradition at Academy. For the last eight years, seniors and underclassmen alike have enjoyed crowding around the map, admiring the array of colleges the seniors would be attending. When the map appeared in the senior lounge last year, however, there was a notable lack of names. In years past, the students’ names were connected to their chosen schools, but that information was no longer on display for the entire student body to see. As with any tradition, the change quickly sparked conversation, particularly among the Upper School.

Some students didn’t see the point in removing the names. After all, the information wasn’t private anymore. Their decisions had been made, and they should be allowed to show their college choices with pride. What’s more, anyone could ask them where they were going to school, and they had no problems with making that knowledge public. If anything, some felt that taking away the names was taking something away from their achievements. Shouldn’t they feel proud of their colleges? Shouldn’t they want to have the result of all their academic and extracurricular endeavors on display? For some, the changes to the map prevented them from feeling quite as proud as they might have.

There is, nonetheless, always another side to a controversy. In fact, Mrs. Heywood stated that there have been people who “disagree with the map as a whole” for a variety of reasons: one  in particular is the pressure it may place upon underclassmen. When seeing a list of names linked only to a school, it seems to reduce students to being defined as their colleges. The map may give the impression that the schools of the current senior class are the standard to be met. That sort of pressure can quickly become unhealthy, especially for younger students.

So, the college counselors were faced with a difficult scenario: what was to be done about the map?

First, they had to retain the original purpose of the map. As Mrs. Heywood said, “The map is a way to celebrate the senior class . . . it’s a way to say, ‘We’re proud of you and all the places that you’re going-and to give a sense of the class.”

The map is meant to showcase the seniors’ achievements and honor their decisions. After surveying the senior class, it was clear that the majority of the students were in favor of the map, so taking it down altogether was out of the question. The problem of the message it was sending the underclassmen remained, however.

The counselors took to heart the words of Dr. Madeline Levine, who spoke at our school last year. In her talk, she mentioned the increasing pressures on high school students. To some, the map was a physical representation of the only way they would be remembered-by their college.

Realizing this, the college counselors finally came to a compromise. The map would stay, but the names would not. Thus, people could still appreciate the diversity of the senior class by seeing the schools they chose. Instead of focusing on who did what, it would showcase their accomplishments as a whole.

So whether you agree with the map, just know the reasoning behind it is important. And above all, when it does go up, take some time to appreciate the achievements of our seniors.


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