Things About American High Schools That I Will Never Fully Understand (Because Things Work Differently In Scotland)
1. This emphasis on sports. Whilst we have sports clubs here, and we do take pride in our football successes, they aren’t the be all and end all, nor are they televised.
2. Cheer squads. This is just not something we have here, though clubs for cheerleading do exist.
3. Marching bands. We do have school bands, and sort of a mini-orchestra of pupils, but they don’t play at football games or anything like that.
4. Mascots. Again, this is just not something we have here.
5. Standardised tests. Over here, you get six years of high school, and you don’t have to sit any formal exams until your fourth year. The rest of the time you’re judged on your coursework and a few tests, each covering a different unit. For instance, in Maths we have three units, and a test at the end of each. However, a lot of these are open book, taking a lot of pressure off.
6. The fact that (as far as I’m aware) you need to pass every subject in order to graduate. Here, once you’ve finished your sixth year, that’s it. You take the qualifications and grades you were able to get, and figure out what to do with them. To get into university, you need a certain number of Highers- the second highest level of qualification you can get in Scotland (I think it’s like an AP-level class, but I may be wrong)- and you need to get particular grades in those Highers. However, most people take two years to do this, to make it easier. This is what I did- I got three Highers last year, and I’m hoping for two more this year.
7. How expensive and difficult college is to get into. This is mainly because education here is free. We only really need loans for things like buying books, paying rent and travelling.
8. Sports scholarships. No offence to people who are on sports scholarships, it’s just not something we have here.
9. Anxiety-inducing levels of pressure. Whilst school over here isn’t a picnic, the fact that we aren’t always getting tested on something, don’t have to pay for university and don’t need to pass everything to leave takes a bit of pressure off.
10. Dress codes. I can understand fully why dress codes are a pain for students in America- particularly female students- but since we have uniforms here, dress codes aren’t usually a problem.
11. Always having the same subjects every day. We have six subjects in the senior phase (fourth years (aged about 15), fifth years (aged about 16) and sixth years (aged about 17)) and you get five periods of each, scattered throughout your week. Usually there’s at least one double, and a double split by either break or lunch.
12. Distinct cliques. Having a uniform makes putting labels on particular groups harder. We have groups of popular kids, groups of nerds, groups of emos, etc. It’s just not always as clear who’s in which group. Also, this might just be me, but I noticed that by not having football teams and cheer squads with inflated egos, there’s less of a hierarchy of cliques. We all just kinda exist, seperate but equal. We’ve got groups of “cool” kids, but they’re less… privileged, I guess. Less entitled. Honestly, the lines can get pretty blurry between the typical groups. It’s easy to have friends in several groups, and some of the popular kids are surprisingly nice. At least, the ones at my current school are.
Note: This is not intended to insult anyone at American schools. I have so much sympathy for everyone who has to go through the American school system and cope with all the pressure that comes with it. However, I thought it would be interesting to make a comparison between the school system in America and the one here, and I wanted to share my observations.