Why is it such a big deal to get your child into the “right” high school?
Will School A further my child’s aspirations in becoming a Protea cricket player? Will School B ensure my child gets the best matric results? Will School C enable my child to study in England? My parents did not have these issues back in the 90’s. We lived in Arcon Park, a leafy suburb in Vereeniging. The Afrikaans high school in our area was Hoërskool Overvaal. And that’s where I went – it was as simple as that. There weren’t any Marketing strategies by the various high schools to visit the primary schools in order to get the best academic students or sportsmen. They were all pretty similar and one didn’t stand out above the rest. The best the Vereeniging high schools had to offer, were things like an outdoor swimming pool, music as an additional subject or boarding facilities. Provincial rugby coaches, astro turf hockey fields, epic theatre productions, overseas school tours. Those were all foreign concepts to most parents of 20th century teenagers! And certainly not on offer in small Transvaal schools.
Maybe, living in Johannesburg, we are just so spoilt for choice? Too spoilt. And that is why we are so unsure and confused and why we are constantly fretting about which school would be best for óúr nearly teenagers. Like most of my friends, I have been to a few high school open days. And most of them are obviously keen to impress and to attract the best caliber child to their school. A friend, whose daughter went from private primary school to government high school, confidently tells me that private high school is a waste of money. That there are still some excellent government schools out there, you just have to find them and of course find ways to secure your child being accepted there.
And let’s face it, how many of us knew, at the age of 11 and 12 what career path we were going to take? Throughout my school career I had dreams about being an actress, journalist, gymnastics coach, hotel manager, beauty therapist, clothing designer. The choices varied tremendously! And, as you can imagine, subject choices didn’t come easy because I didn’t know what type of adult I wanted to be. I admired people like Michelle Bruce and Annie Malan and Ena Murray. What did that say about me back then? I don’t know….I did know however I was never going to be an engineer or a teacher or a computer programmer, so why I suffered through the agony of Maths and Maths extra classes, is a mystery. I believe there is however a small amount of young people who know exactly what they want to be and pursue that from a young age. And that makes high school and subject choices just a little easier.
I hear of schools who put a lot of pressure on academics and wonder if that is really what I want for my children? What is it that I want for my 11year old daughter who, in 2019, will start a huge chapter in her young life? High school. I want balance for her. I want her to feel she fits in somewhere and that it is OK if you are not the most popular, coolest or richest. I want her to experience there will always be families better off than us, but there will also be families a lot worse off than us too. I want her to experience life and different cultures and to explore different activities. And by getting exposed to all these different things, find her passions.
Thank goodness high school is only in 2019. Good luck with your choices!