School Climate & Safety Opinion


By Christina Torres — January 19, 2016 6 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Throughout the year, I will be posting pieces written by students about topics regarding race, culture, gender, and sexuality. More about this is written here. Below, a senior writes about the lack of diversity in post-high school culture in America.

Guest post by Jarin Moriguchi.

A Subtle and Underlying Peer Pressure

It’s the start of a new year, and yet one thing remains on the minds and lips of nearly every single one of my classmates.

From the moment we enter middle school, the idea of going to college after high school is embedded in our minds and intertwined with our visions of the future. Every single day, the subject of almost every conversation held between students leads to a discussion about the future, which to them is, in short: COLLEGE.

This word creeps into my ears every time I stroll through the hallway in between classes. One of my classmate’s signature questions to ask is: “Did you apply?” The repetition of this phrase is so routine, that whenever I am asked that question, I automatically think that she is talking to someone else. Even while listening to the teacher’s history lecture, other students cannot stop whispering about college.

“John Maynard Keynes was an interesting man, in his youth he...”

“Compared to Marx’s ideas of society during...”
”...applications due...”

”...and on page 147 where it says that...”
”...did you hear back from...”


College consumes many students’ lives and thoughts. The thought of the future and what is to come is thrilling and scary, which makes it an attractive thought and conversation topic. It is human nature to think of what’s coming next. Though sometimes it seems that all they can think to talk about is college, and they are led to believe that it is the only thing that can happen after a student’s time in high school is over. If they do know of other options, most believe that none of them are viable life paths to follow that can lead to success in the future.

Though it may sound like it, I don’t think college is a bad thing. I think that it is great for people who feel that pursuing a further education after high school will best prepare them to become a productive member of society. College is a great place to meet new people and discover all sorts of things that the world has to offer. In my opinion, people desiring to educate themselves is also a great thing for the progression of humanity itself.

But not all students think that way. There are so many different people who go to school, and so many factors that could affect a student’s thought process and reasoning. This prevents every person being able to fit into the same mold.

Now that our release into the “real world” draws near, the pressure put on my classmates and me to get essays written, scholarships researched, and applications submitted is higher than ever. Many of my peers are also already waiting or have already heard back from the colleges and universities that they applied to. At this point in time, I am constantly aware of the unavoidable lack of my own college application.

The media, my parents, and my teachers are a few of the biggest sources of influence on my actions and choices. The last but not least of which are my peers. I spend as much time with them as I do with my family, if not more. I talk to my peers more than I talk to my teachers and parents combined. Their thoughts are valued and there is an apparent desire within myself to impress my friends because I do care about how they view me.

People get tired of the same thing if it happens over and over again. The constant noise of questions, complaints, and lectures regarding college can get extremely repetitious and irking. It has gotten extremely repetitious and irking. Teachers seem to be pressuring students to go to college, even if they do not apply that pressure intentionally. Everything we do in school seems to mostly wrap back around to how what we are learning will help us in college. I would also like to hear about how different applications of the subject matter can be used in areas other than college, at least, an equal amount as teachers seem to talk about its significance at a collegiate level of schooling. Should there be a limit to the amount of influence a teacher puts on a student’s decision of their plans for the future?

Students also try to force their views of college and the future onto their peers, especially if their peers are unsure about what to do. My classmates’ complaints about the seemingly immense amounts of stress exerted onto them by college before they have even gotten accepted, can be dramatically heard in every classroom, hallway, and bathroom around campus. All of these things combined have created a nulling background noise to the entire school day, and being completely honest, it has discouraged me a bit from wanting to pursue a college education immediately after high school. This is because I do not want to fill my head with even more thoughts of college because it is already filled with everyone else’s blabber. It may sound as if all of these factors have had a significant impact on decisions regarding my future plans, and that is because it has.

Through first-hand observation, students who don’t feel college is right for them, are scared to seek advice from instructors and friends. This fear stems from a common belief among the student body that not going or getting into college is an indication of failure. This is an issue because students are led to believe that they are not smart, which is in almost all-observed-cases, not true. That perception of college can also counteract productive thinking, which may be because those students may feel that they have to change the way they think about or perceive the future and society, in order to be thought of as intelligent. Students should not feel forced to change the way that they think, especially in this crucial period of adolescence where many of them are attempting to discover themselves.

This presents us with the question: How can a student discover themselves when they feel pressured to change? In a sense, the apparent feel of need to go to college can be a form of subtle, underlying peer pressure. Since a large amount of people attending high school believe going to college is the only sensible thing to do after high school, this could influence the portion of students who desire another path to present itself.

Perhaps the students whose minds are not overcome by the thought of pursuing a further education after high school decide to silence their “gut feeling” and give college life a go. Since their hearts aren’t fully into what they are doing, and there is no passion for the route they are taking to the future, this may be one out of the many reasons for students failing to complete their college education.

Someone’s true passion for something can inspire a killer work ethic. This helps when attempting to complete any task or reaching to achieve any goal, which can to lead to success and praise, ultimately resulting in a greater sense of self-confidence. Schools should be sure to provide a greater emphasis and deeper focus on all routes that a student can choose to follow after attending high school. This world is huge and there are so many things to experience. The exposure could help those who don’t believe college is right for them, know that going to college is not the only key to success in the future, and perhaps even assist adolescents and adults alike to reach their true goals and pursue their passions in the future. When a person is passionate about what they are doing, there is no limit that can be put on their ability to reach their full potential and become successful, no matter what a person’s perception of success may be.

Jarin Moriguchi is a student at the University Laboratory School, a public charter school located in Honolulu, Hawai’i. He is now a high school senior and is striving to graduate alongside his classmates in May of 2016. Outside of school, Jarin works in retail and enjoys history, coffee, fashion, travel, writing, and his grandma’s Sunday dinners.

Find Christina online:

The opinions expressed in The Intersection: Culture and Race in Schools are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.