Don’t say you weren’t warned. Being a science high school student is not easy. And I’m not even talking about the academic overload, the expensive science experiments, or the colossal pile of paperwork and projects. They’re all breeze to me, looking back at my four-year tenure in Nosci. I’m talking about the sheer label - “Sci-High student”. Just by being a graduate of a science high school means a lot. Most of the time, that means Great Expectations. Does that sound familiar to you?
When I was asked by The Scholar to write about life after Nosci, I was extremely hesitant. I couldn’t do it. What would I write about? I’m not even much of an achiever or a star when I went to college. In fact, I think I’m even a slacker, or a failing mark. But hey, I thought, why should I be ashamed of that? I have a message to the young people that is about to take the path I chose, or the paths I did not. Life after Nosci was both good and bad. But mostly bad. I’ll tell you why.
Let me first get back to my primary thought. You now all know that, by being a Noscian, the moment you stepped in your first class as an Einstein or Edison student, your whole perspective in life changed. You started forgetting about childhood – instead you got excited learning who Archimedes was or how different speed is from velocity. You took note of formulas in Physics or Chemistry and always made sure your grades in Math can make it to the cut-off score. My point is, you matured early because of an advanced education. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. That’s a fact.
Now, by the time you get to senior year, it’s either that you are already exhausting your brains out, OR you are just beginning your Golden Era in Advanced Physics, Advanced Chem, Advanced Research, whatever. And then you plan your after-high-school-life. You take all the qualifying exams for top universities in the island, in the country or abroad. You straighten yourself out – this is it. You have gone through a tedious preparatory program that readied you to face the big C – “College” – where you are of course, expected to excel at. Magic word is – Expected.
This is one topic that my batch-mates and former schoolmates have oftentimes debated upon. What is expected of a science high school graduate? Is he or she required to finish a Bachelor of Science degree at the least possible time (which is usually 4-5 years)? Is he or she obliged to maintain a respectable status, or a reputation of excellence? Is he or she invincible to failures and shortcomings in the decisions he or she make? Is a Noscian supposed to be bound by an unwritten contact to be the best?
The truth as of the moment is, indeed, yes. If you’re from Science High, you should be intelligent. Make that really intelligent. You should be good in the Sciences. You should be good in Math. You should be good in this, in that. You should know the answer to this, the correct procedure for that. Get the drift? To illustrate, try to see what reactions you get when you meet new people who’d find out you’re from a science high school: “Really? Alam ka gali?”
This is what’s wrong with the society that we ourselves have created. We have allowed people to impose standards on us, on our performance, on the decisions we make every day. We have allowed people to tell us what to do with our lives. This is not to discredit the noble intentions of the founders of Nosci or to dismiss the great efforts to gather the intellectually-capable Negrense youth for a top-class secondary education program. But this is to remind us that we are 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds, 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds. We are ought to commit mistakes, to stumble, to fail, to make wrong decisions. This is the most effective way for all of us to learn.
My life after Nosci, as I wrote earlier, is mostly bad. I was overwhelmed by my ambitions and when I was unable to reach most of them, everything became a frustration. There was even a point when I gave up, and never thought of picking myself up from hurt and disappointment. But I figured – there was something else that Science High taught me, other than chemical symbols or endangered species. There was an even more important thing that I learned in Science High, which makes me ultimately proud and confident to stand up and face the world.
I learned how to be tough.
So this is the bottom-line of it all: You are from Science High. You are smart. You are strong. Even if your plans don’t work out fine, or you don’t get that scholarship for college or no matter how you fail the people that expects too highly of you – Go on. The tenacity of your Noscian spirit will make you go through all sorts of challenges. Be confident – You are capable of adapting to different kinds of people and environment. Don’t think about the path you have to choose – as long as you have the guts to carry on. Don’t be afraid to fail, for you will always make it in the end. It’s in your blood, in your head, and in your heart. You are a Noscian.
I just hope that the Noscian community, which is by the way happily growing, will cultivate among ourselves a culture of liberation from unhealthy expectations. It is not by scientific method we mold persons of great value – it is by giving ourselves all the chances in the world to learn both from our notes and from experience. It is not by advanced education that we can build humanity from; it will only produce either premature intellectuals, or intellectual monsters. It is by providing enough opportunity for the humans in ourselves to develop, to strengthen our character and to unravel the meaning and lay out the direction of our own lives, on our own.
***This was published in the Alumni page of The Scholar 2007, official student publication of Negros Occidental Science High School. Dave was the Editor-in-Chief of the said school paper from 2003-04.