Six Percent | Teen Ink

Six Percent MAG

January 13, 2019
By CAW1022 BRONZE, Clarksotn, Michigan
CAW1022 BRONZE, Clarksotn, Michigan
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

My family went on a road trip this summer – well, more like a college road trip – to find potential schools for me. This grandiose tour-o-colleges included Duke, Virginia, UCLA and North Carolina. These are the top tier schools my father has always dreamed of me eventually attending. And, over the years, his dreams have become mine. Going to the best school drives me. It drove me to dream of attending one of the absolute best school – Duke.


The morning I visited Duke will be one I will never forget. Driving into Durham, the first thing you’ll notice is the beauty. The 9,000-acre campus was probably the most beautifully kept piece of land I’ve ever had the pleasure to lay my eyes upon. It seemed almost too beautiful for me to be there. It was like the fine china your mother owns: you don’t mess with it. I found my heart soaring. Although the Blue Devil mascot seemed creepy, I knew this was my dream school. The information session included the usual: ACT and SAT scores, GPA, class rank, essays, the ever overused “Why us?” question. Then the 6% admission rate was mentioned. There was a collective gasp from the audience. Parents began to wonder why they brought their 17-year-old for a tour when he or she didn’t even have a chance of getting in. As for me, I didn’t even gasp. Oh heck no, I’m not getting in here, I thought to myself. The speakers tried to control the damage done by hastily stating “Um, ah, yeah we look for unique factors. We are looking for people who have potential that builds to a greater purpose but also have the academic capacity to back it up.” Definitely not coming here, I thought, disgust filling my head.


If I’ve been taught one thing growing up, it is that there is some purpose for me being on Earth. God made me for reason. He made all of us for some reason. I believe we all have potential; we all have a purpose.


The issue for high school students nowadays is finding that purpose. Young adults fight the hardest internal battle there is: what to do with your life. In a school setting, there is a constant comparison about who is doing better based on grades. These grades are what we think will define our futures, but they are not really what gives us purpose.


Upon more reflection, I’ve realized I’ve never had the opportunity to find my purpose. I think the main culprit of this is the education system. How am I to find what I truly love, what truly sets my soul on fire, when all I do is study things I don’t have a passion for? 


Take, for instance, right now. While I am writing this personal essay, I am also juggling an AP Biology test, a review guide for AP Economics, and trying to come up with an idea for a French presentation. I could be doing a thousand other things that move me toward finding my purpose. But, as a junior in high school, I can’t seem to find the time for a huge part of life: my dreams. I come home; I do homework. That’s it. On the weekends, it’s much the same. I wake up, don’t even sleep in (because who has time for that) and I do homework. I do homework the whole day. Occasionally, I can find time for fleeting moments with friends. We will go to football games, watch movies, play pool, go driving, all the “normal” teenage things. And we laugh. Laughing recklessly is my favorite pastime. That is what gives me purpose.


In laughing, I find love; I feel whole. I know, it’s a gigantic cliché. But, our purpose is not to make the most money, it is to be happy with our lives and who we are as people. We cannot judge whose life has the most purpose based on the 6% that Duke determines by using their algebraic formula for determining potential. Potential is subjective.


There is an issue with the way our education system is set up. We reward based on grades. We think that academic success gives us potential and that potential will lead to purpose, but that’s not the order of things. Purpose is found in places outside the classroom. No one will ever grow up and say, “I was top five in my high school class, so I will be more successful than everyone else.” The world doesn’t work that way. We don’t find purpose by being the smartest. Purpose and potential need to stop being placed on the same scale as grades when it comes to measuring who is in that 6% and who isn’t.


What colleges all over America don’t seem to grasp is: how can you judge someone based on how much potential they have? Work ethic and personality, things that are valued so much in the workplace, cannot be seen by glancing at a college application. Grades aren’t a defining factor once you’re in college. In fact, it is what you do with yourself in and after college that defines how much potential you have. You don’t need to go to the best of the best colleges and drown yourself in stress and homework in order to be successful. A piece of paper saying you earned a degree from Duke is nothing in the grand scheme of life. It makes you just as successful as someone who earned a degree from a community college. It’s a piece of paper stating: “Congrats! You graduated college! Oh wait, you are just like 30% of other Americans.” But how do you set yourself apart? Shocker, it’s not with your GPA. It is how you use the life, opportunities, and talent you were given. Success is found in the little things, much like purpose.


Purpose is what makes life worth living. The world is full of too many beautiful and fleeting moments to dwell on things that are stressful when they won’t matter in the long run. Instead, what matters is how you use the life you were blessed to be given. You need to utilize your talents, big and small, and seize every opportunity to make the most of your life. I believe that there is more to purpose than what meets the eye, that when I lay my head down at night I am content knowing I contribute more to this world than just my academic potential. 

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.