April 2003
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The Elderly Adolescent
By Becky M., Grade 12, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

How old is too old to be young? 25? 30? Or as young as 5 when children are being placed into early immersion? A head-start on their future, but what's it doing to their present?

Learning a second language is a good tool for your future, but it is just the beginning of an average of 16 years of thinking solely of your future and never of the present. You have to do well in elementary school so you can have a good foundation to your education. Parents will limit the amount of leisure time a child can have so they can focus more on their studies. By Grade five these children are carrying bags that are straining their backs. No pain no gain in the world of education.

By the time they reach middle school they are already going through the beginning phases of getting a university education. Their focus is being split between their education and saving money for their future. Many students are by now babysitting, working a paper route or working for a family member to have some spending money and to put some money away for university. With tuition raising up to 10 percent every year unless the parents are rich or they want to be buried in debt until they're forty, they need to have a large savings to deplete. Also with less free time now, they have to decide between which after school activity they think is most fun, and which will look best on their university application. On top of all that, they have to decide what they want to do with their lives because they need to know which classes to take when they reach high school.

Now that they've made it to high school, they have to get real part-time jobs so they can save more tuition money, they have to take seriously stream-lined classes so they can get into the course they want in university and make sure they have some extracurricular activities so that they're a well-rounded student. They need to get and keep high grades so that they can get the entrance scholarships and possibly other scholarships. They also have to deal with pressures from the less dedicated students to do drugs, drink or skip classes.

This is all leading to the two extremes of students, the overly dedicated, and those who just give up. Andrew M., when asked what he's going to do after high school, said he was going to take arts, Rob W. on the other hand said he might do something with music, maybe drawing, maybe something else. Andrew goes to school most every day. Rob, not quite so much. Andrew has bought into the idea that no higher education means no future, Rob got the idea that not stressing about the future all the time means no ulcers.

Is this a healthy way for the youth of today? Stuck between living up to expectations, and living a life of their own? If they want to take a couple years off before university to travel or save money, they're raising the overall cost of their education a couple thousand dollars. Where should the line be drawn between preparing for the future and living for the present. You could live until you're a hundred or die tomorrow, but decide, what's most important to you.


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