The Doctrine of Ridge

Austin Hu '19

When that time of year comes around, when blood and sweat are spilled, when self-doubt becomes everyone’s best friend, what is necessary to win the battle against college applications? What is necessary to win the war of success? A sharp mind? Or an indomitable will? The answer is: something more, something beyond the rigor of six AP courses, a combination of self-motivation and external nurture. Considering the full arsenal of strategy, Ridge High School (henceforth dubbed as “Ridge”) does provide students with the mental fortitude and supportive environment needed to conquer the college process.

Stemming from a harsh workload, the endurance of the mind is the core of the college process. Essentially, mental stamina encompasses the three categories: memory, creativity, and persistence. Memory is self explanatory with Ridge’s dense information stacking on tests and rigorous courses (especially accelerated). Many classes need a strong memory base to succeed, such as biology or human geography. Without spending concrete time to carve Weber’s law or the evolutionary tree into the brain, the student cannot thrive. But with this strong memory the student can extend that malleable brain to recall experiences, due dates, and technical portions of the common application (honors, activities, etc.).

Regarding creativity, unfortunately, Ridge High School’s notorious “DIDLS” and “TPCASTT” has drained students of their creativity over the years (unless they choose exercise it outside the classroom, those still sane, forgive me). The formulaic education and to-the-books enforcement of assignments leaves the creative mind to rot (prefrontal cortex, psychology students). With most of the education consisting of  assessments and homework, there remains little room for students to actively seek their own solutions or styles of learning, which can be a hindrance in writing abstract college supplemental questions. Still, this pit can be avoided through, ironically, formulaic supplement writing. In some cases for the “why did you choose this university?” question template, Ridge effectively teaches the skill of analyzing structure from past essays and adding more meat to the bones.

Creativity aside, Ridge builds persistence and memory well, rather, Ridge demands them. Be it for AP, Honors, or CP, each teacher at Ridge is passionate and strict when it comes to students’ success. As noted by Mrs. Wilpizeski, who teaches Honors Biology and Forensics Science, “it seems at every level self-conditioning and effort are the lights to guide the class. If you want it, you have to grab it”. Indeed, good grades, extracurricular success, and social enjoyment are all free floating gold for a student to grab; if they miss, the responsibility is theirs to keep reaching. Ridge stresses this value through cumulative assessments replacements and retakes, opportunities that demand motivation and the self-drive to achieve an end goal. Senior Siddhant Ganapathy advocates “Ridge helps its students understand the importance of work ethic with its astute teachers and rigorous courses. This serves students well in their post secondary ventures”. The coursework in fact powerfully drives work ethic. Simply allocating time to study and complete the required homework paves the way to steady progress in the college process. In this way Ridge breeds very independent and inspired students who realize that at the end of the road college is not to appease parents nor is it to show to friends; college is an illuminating pathway that extends from the individual, from the power of will. Truly, Ridge’s competitive academic mechanics install the ideal program in students to stay motivated and consistently push through the college process. Ultimately, Ridge develops the brain to become sturdy enough to be prepared to spend hours on end on applications (essentially, children stay sane).

Of course, success, along with the college process does not and is not a one-man battle. Though peers are not on the same battlefield, they are fighting the same war. Especially in this generation’s senior year, the community is empathetic (they can relate!) and helpful. This not only provides comfort that in the midst of choosing colleges and application stress there will always be a soft pillow to catch your fall and bounce you right back up. Senior Max Su comments “this year I did realize the grade is like a pair of hands”. These hands have struggled the same adversities, and will hold any other hand in need, be it college recommendations, essay suggestions, and common application reviews. While Ridge enforces draconian teaching methods, it also emphasizes group work and the collective effort, evident in freshman to junior years of french partner essays as well as occasional partner assessments in math and history classes. Additionally, the school guidance counselors offer tremendous support. Though Ridge does not have a large amount of counselors, the ones available are easy to access and have a trove of pointers to propel the student in the right direction. They offer one on one meetings where they may even run through the common application and supplemental essays entirely. In the Ridge community, especially during times of anxiety, more hands loosen their grips on academics, on social preferences, and extend fingers to help one another. This solidarity is the forefront of a class, the foundation for a grade’s success.

Whether you have a November first deadline or January first deadline, remember this: the experience at Ridge High School is what you make from it. Accept the words you want to accept, and use those words along with your brain to succeed. Ridge may torture students with three and a half long years of academic labor and deadline fetters, but the values taught effectively prepare students for the final battle: college applications, and the holy grail: college life.