By Tyree Brown
I come from a non-extravagant high school in metro Atlanta named Mount Zion High School. Located on the edge of Clayton County, it usually goes unnoticed as it is not extraordinary in its sports and lacking in academic awards or achievements.
This past fall break, I decided to visit the place that prepared me to take on the challenges I would face during my time here at the University of Georgia.
Through observing a couple classes, talking to my previous teachers, and reflecting on my brief college experience, I realized a couple things. These realizations only make my time here at Georgia more appreciative, and many of the people from my area certainly feel the same way.
Of my first realization, there is not a substantial amount of students that originate from the Clayton County District or even the southern part of the Metro Atlanta area.
“It’s a small representation of Clayton County schools here at UGA but it’s actually more than thought it would be.” First year Anastasia Klosterman said.
Klosterman is a student that attended Lovejoy High school also located in Clayton County. Like me, she feels that many schools located in other areas of the state seem to have a higher attendance rate at the University of Georgia, but why might this be?
One reason may be the mindset of the student within my high school. During my final year of high school, many students preferred schools that may not be considered as prodigious as other higher education schools in the state that range from the University of Georgia to Clark Atlanta University. This same thinking was restated upon my return to Mount Zion.
It was troubling to hear students express that major academic schools were to challenging, and in many cases not even worth applying to. Of course not every student will not want to attend a heavily populated, well known school, but I prefer that every student within my alma mater believe that every option is available.
The role models present in society may play an important factor in deciding the goals and aspirations that teens create within high school.
Unfortunately, teens do not look to professional black men and woman of the workplace. Instead of following in the footsteps of figures like Barack Obama and Bill Gates, the majority of young children in the Clayton County area look to role models in the sports or music industry.
Media also plays an intrusive role in the future of the students. The media portrays athletes that went through the struggle, and relied only on their athleticism to make it out their tough status.
The media loves to exploit these stories who target many of the students that originate from my area. Students will focus more on their sports and athleticism in hope of one day become a local success story.
Reports from the NCAA show that out of 1,093,237 high school football players, only about 1.6% will be drafted into the NFL.
As for basketball, out of 541,054 students, only about 1.4% of students will be drafted into the NBA. Although there are no definitive percents for the music industry, I can assure this is a career that is just as unlikely.
As for my second observation, I realized that Mount Zion did not properly prepare me for the challenging curriculum at Georgia. For years, my economics teacher would tell me how much of a joke high school is, especially at Mount Zion. Unfortunately his words are seeming all too true.
“The amount of Academic rigor here [Georgia] is more strenuous compared to my classes in high school.” Klosterman said. “I didn’t have to study much in high school and I barely even had to put on much work.”
Looking back at my high school curriculum, I will definitely say that little effort would sometimes be put forth within some classes.
Although there were ways to challenge oneself in more rigorous classes, these opportunities are often deferred by the majority of the school population. Even when these classes are chosen, I can admit that they were often not taken seriously.
As an individual that intended on participating in higher education, it’s sad I choose to not take my studies more serious. If someone like me chose to ignore such opportunities, it is easy to speculate that many of the other students at my school did also.
The graduation rate of Clayton, Dekalb, and APS combined is a mere 54%. This is opposed to counties such as Cobb, Gwinnett, and Fulton county schools who all reach the 70’s alone.
On a more enlightening aspect, I noticed there were students who chose to embrace their situation and take full advantage of their situation. There are students that have aspirations and goals and intend on reaching them.
Did I attend the worse school in the country? I would readily disagree as there were plenty of opportunities to succeed.
In the near future, I hope to see more students from my district that understand the value of their education and understand that they too can be a Georgia Bulldog.