The cost of learning beyond the classroom


Emily Phuong Tran, Co-Feature Editor

Ask any of my friends: they’ll tell you about my notoriety for turning my work in at the very last minute. In junior year, I started every single IB English assessment at 11:30 p.m.. In IB History 1, I pulled an all-nighter to complete three essay plans and two essays on the night they were due. In the last four hours of IB English 12, I wrote a literary analysis, an essay and finished reflections on two books. 

I get As. Surely, my grades qualified me for college admissions. If I wanted to guarantee As, I would’ve changed my ways. But I’m unwilling to seek perfection, to get the highest grades possible on my assignments, to “wow” my teachers. There are other things to do.

The reason I wrote the literary analysis at the last minute was because I had picked up Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion. Then, I forgot about my assignment altogether. Even though I barely tried in IB Economics, carelessly writing over the word count on my Internal Assessments, I’m using my knowledge to read Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox, which helps me understand the Biden administration’s efforts to break up Big Tech. I’m certainly an average IB History student – I never registered an A on any of my on-demand essays –  but I know enough to render historical background to keep up with Foreign Affairs

When I get bored, I seek to expand my knowledge through other avenues and that has meant leaving my prescribed work behind. I write for this newspaper, I run two student organizations, I have a job and I still spend time with my family and friends. Institutionalized learning deepens my life rather than leaving me with no life at all. 

Education should be about acquiring tools to build something of your own. For some, academia is desirable. One of my best friends loves writing papers – she’s really good at it. For myself, I would rather interpret my knowledge outside the academic institution. In the latter, this means my learning won’t be reflected by my grades or my test scores. I don’t mind it – to me, this is a necessary tradeoff.