OPINION: Students coddled by new policies are in for a rude awakening

No one looks forward to high school. Few people genuinely know what they want to be when they’re older or what their exact next step is. Instead, high school is the preliminary portion of one’s life, and for many students, the next step is college. Many students desperately count down the days until they’re packing up and heading out to college, and schools themselves constantly discuss college and encourage the anticipation. West Essex, as well as high schools across the country, emphasize and broadcast their priority of preparing students for this next chapter of their lives.

College is a time in which students become more independent. They are often living on their own, away from their parents for the first time, and it is their first trial of responsibility and maturity. Although college is eventually the true test for growing up, high school’s goal should be to make sure all students are as ready as possible for this change, and part of that preparation involves helping students learn how to manage themselves and be on their own.

However, several of the school’s more recent student policies outwardly undermine the already fragile amount of preparation West Essex students are provided with.

With our phones in phone jails all day, students lose a valuable chance to learn how to deal with and overcome distractions on their own. After high school, no one will be there to monitor interruptions or ensure students pay attention. It falls onto each student individually to complete their own work and pay attention in order to succeed. With the obstruction now simply unavailable to students, they will be forced to discover this lesson the difficult way in college: by performing poorly on higher-stakes assignments before making an adjustment.

The absence policy will essentially produce the same result. It is necessary for everyone to learn when they are sick and able to miss class and when they will be pressured to push through and work hard despite the difficulties. Additionally, colleges often emphasize the importance of mental health in order to be successful academically. One needs to have a clear, stress-free mind as they approach all sorts of assignments and exams. With the removal of excused absences, nearly 80 percent of over 300 West Essex students agree that they are no longer provided with the ability to prioritize their mental needs and ensure their own stability, all because their school determined that it was no longer as important as it previously was.

Specifically for seniors, leaving for lunch and arriving late or leaving early for Study Hall is a new privilege; however, this new policy did not begin until Oct. 3, giving students an entire month of school prior to this change. The administration’s reasoning for this delay was that many seniors would have guidance meetings scheduled during lunch blocks, and this would prevent anyone from missing, skipping or forgetting their meetings. Unfortunately, this has a negative impact on their future college preparation. How will students ever learn to manage their own time if they are not given the space to make mistakes, let alone learn from them?

At this rate, students will be entering college unequipped in all ways except academically, even though there are possible opportunities to learn responsibilities sooner. Without the preparation for their responsibilities, everything will bombard students all at once, forcing them to make many mistakes at the same time, in a situation in which the stakes are higher.