The Post-Paly Plans Map has historically been one of The Campanile’s most highly anticipated pieces. Though its intended purpose was to celebrate the post-graduation plans of every senior, the reality is the map contributes to the toxic, comparison-driven culture at Paly. Our community fosters a college-centric mindset which erodes one’s sense of value and can lead to students with less traditional plans feeling judged, embarrassed or underrepresented. This worldview sets the bar for achievement extremely high and punishes anyone who falls short. We believe the burden of improving Paly’s environment falls on the students. If we don’t shift how we talk and think about college, the culture will never improve. This is the reason we decided not to publish the map this year. In place of the map, we decided to publish a series of quotes portraying Paly community members’ perspectives on the culture at our school and alternative post-graduation paths. We hope this decision sparks discussion about the values and priorities of students, families and community members. We wish the best for every graduating Paly student in pursuing their future goals. Thanks for reading, Ethan, Leyton, Kaylie, Ujwal and Waverly 2018-2019 Editors-in-Chief of The Campanile “It’s extremely toxic. It’s detrimental to a person’s health, mental health and it hurts not only themselves, but others around them. Because there are kids who can’t pay for colleges like that. And there’s kids that just don’t know how to get better grades; they have some kind of learning disability. And they’re looking at their peers getting into all the top colleges that their parents talk to them about all the time and they can’t do it. There’s a wall. There’s a barrier.” – Ingrid Paixao (Class of 2019) “People really put (community college) down. Like, ‘Oh, community college, that means you couldn’t get into a four-year, that means you’re poor or you’re broke.’ That didn’t offend me because that’s your opinion, but it’s just not true. Community college is tough. Foothill is really hard the first two years because they’re trying to improve your academic skills and all that. I do feel like there is this veil of shame on community college that there shouldn’t be.” – Hanna Corny (Class of 2019) “There were definitely some instances where people, even if they didn’t say it straight to my face, implied that if you’re a good student, why aren’t you going to a ‘better’ college, a ‘better’ school. I had a few different options I was looking at and I had some more prestigious options, so a lot of people were very shocked when I told them that I had decided. … One person even asked me, ‘Oh, do you not care at all?’” – Gila Winefeld (Class of 2019) “After Paly, I’m going to enroll in the University of Waterloo up in Canada. It’s got a co-op program so it’s five years where I’ll spend half my time working, I’ll probably work in a software company, and I really like the program and how it works. It’s a five year program and I end up getting two degrees after that.” – Ryan Ehrlich (Class of 2019) “The moment I said I was going to England everyone assumed I was going to Oxford or Cambridge. Within less than a second they would ask me if I was going there, and then when I would tell them no it kind of just made it feel like my college wasn’t really as prestigious, and it wasn’t really as top as Oxford or Cambridge. So, it was interesting. The actual process and getting in, there was actually no pressure, but when it came to people asking where I was going —” – Phoebe Crabb (Class of 2019) “College is always on our minds. Since middle school, our parents have drilled us on getting into the best colleges. I think that has affected how we navigate extracurriculars and academics and sometimes biting off way more than we can chew. … There’s always tension in the air. There’s always some kind of looming fear that you’re going to mess up. People can seem kind of fake sometimes and it’s hard to be able to do what you want because you think there is some right thing that you have to do.” – Andrew Shih (Class of 2019) “I know there has been some pushback and from what I’ve heard it sounds like people are dishonest about the map because they feel like they’ve got to represent that they’ve gotten into schools that they haven’t. This has long been a community, we’re in the shadows of Stanford University, so it goes back long before I was here. I think this was a community that values education. These prestigious colleges are for some people the right match. It’s far more about personal fit, the social experience, the social growth. The education is a big piece of it, but it’s not the only thing.” – James Hamilton (Class of 2019 Guidance Counselor) “I do think there’s definitely too much emphasis put on the name brand schools and wanting to go places because they are revered as elite institutions rather than students going places that are going to help them further their education. “(A solution) takes a full community effort to emphasize studying at places that are going to be best for the student that aren’t necessarily revered as the best in the country. It starts with parents but it definitely percolates down to students and is kind of fostered by everybody in the Paly community. I think the first step is recognizing that it’s an unhealthy and really warped viewpoint. The school that you attend is ultimately not going to be the determiner of the success in your life, it’s going to be the types of work you do at the school, the people you meet and the experiences you gain.” – Dominic Thibault (Class of 2019) “This year is the biggest graduating senior class, there’s six students in the Futures program graduating. All six are going to the post-secondary program. So students graduate from Paly, go through the graduation ceremony just like everyone else, and then through the ATP (Adult Transfer Program), it’s like an extension of here, so they continue with vocational training. They generally enroll in summer school, that’s where they get registered for Foothill. … They’ll all go to the ATP and through that program they continue working, continue going to junior college. The goal by the end of that program is that students have jobs, have the main adult things set up in their life. So when PAUSD stops serving them at 22, it’s not like they’re stopping off into this unknown abyss.” – Erika Oakson (Special Education Teacher) “I’m going to post-secondary and then in summer I’m going to work in the VA and I’m going to have summer school with the post-secondary.” – Aarun Visuthikraisee (Class of 2019) “I wish a trade track and a community college track was more respected. I think kids feel embarrassed when they say they are going to community college.” – Deborah Whitson (Social Studies Teacher) “This place is all about going to a four-year university right away instead of having the option to spend two years at a community college such as Foothill or De Anza.” – Oscar Liu (Class of 2019) “I’m sort of against people telling the world because for me it’s only the people who need to know know. And I’ve heard a lot of negative things like ‘oh, how did this person get in there’ and it perpetuates the negative cycle and I didn’t want to add to that. So I’d rather have if someone is curious to just ask me.” – Kristina Im (Class of 2019) “I’m looking to celebrate everyone, and post-high school options of all kinds. Like right now we’re talking about only college. Like, what about folks who decide to go to the military? What about…you know what I mean? There are other options out there — granted, not as many students at Paly pursue them, but it would be interesting, I think, to highlight them all, or even to promote them all.” – Sandra Cernobori (College and Career Center Counselor) “Personally, I think community college is a great, great plan. The stigma is that if you aren’t going to a four-year people look down on you. I look at it (the opposite way) — if you’re going to a two-year that means you’re confident enough that you can help yourself out. I don’t understand why there’s such a negative view on community college because I think it’s a great idea financially and mentally for a senior.” – Bryan Kagiri (Class of 2019) “It (the Varsity Blues scandal) is not a byproduct, it is a direct product of believing you have to do whatever you can to get your kid into this school. We absolutely abhor those (U.S. News & World Report) rankings. You will always hear from us (Teacher Advisers): college is a match, it is not a reward. You also have people who didn’t even applied to college. But they wish they could have. Or they wish they could go to a four-year college right away after Paly. … Those are the people we need to bolster around here. … A goal without a plan is just a wish. So if you still have a goal to go to college, just take a different path, and that’s fine. … If it’s not right after high school, ok so be it. Be content with it. Learn about yourself. Find out what is important to you. And go for it still. It just means you aren’t going immediately to a four-year college or university. What happens on that day where the caps go in the air is that the name of that ceremony isn’t graduation, it’s commencement. What does it mean to commence? Begin. So if you think of it that way, then there’s a whole lot more afterwards, whether it’s college or whether it’s not college. This is just a commencement — of what? Well, that’s the exciting part. If you knew the answer to that there would be no fun in life.” – Arne Lim (Math Instructional Leader) “I know now that they’ve gotten a lot better at sort of trying to make a holistic view of students and trying to emphasize that we’re not just our test scores and grades, but originally, you know, during freshman and sophomore and junior years, a lot of my teachers would say “oh, you need to do well in this class to get good grades, and you’ll get good jobs based on where you go.” I think being in a climate and town that has, obviously, stanford right across the street, a lot of parents who’ve gone to Ivies and everything, I think it puts this sort of pressure on the students to do well. It’s not just teachers, it’s also parents — not my parents specifically, but I know I’ve talked to other people and they were stressed about it. And then I have other teachers being like “college doesn’t really matter” and they’re sort of trying to take it from the inside of Paly. I have hope for Paly. I think that they’re really trying, and I think that eventually it will become better, but I think right now we’re still stuck in the mindset that college really matters.” – Sophie Relman (Class of 2019) “I acknowledge the fact that that (four-year college) is a path some people will take and it’s probably beneficial for some people to take that path, but I don’t think that path is for everyone, and I don’t think that’s really acknowledged and it’s like everyone should take that path because it’s the high achieving path and that’s what Palo Alto is about. I think there’s a lot of benefits to community college, like price — a lot of people can’t afford to go to a university that’s $50000 a year … It’s Palo Alto, most of the people here can afford it, so we don’t bother about the people who can’t. That last one (the Post-Paly Plans Map) is a major problem because I don’t think a lot of people want their names on that and it’s more of like a ‘let’s look at the top colleges and who’s going there and if you’re not going there you suck’. That’s a lot more what it’s used for, and if you really want to know where someone is going you can ask them. I don’t think everyone’s information should be put out like that. Especially here, where we don’t do a good job with mental health, that’s another factor on that. Because if people don’t care to fix a problem, nothing’s going to happen.” – Alex Scharf (Paly Class of 2015 & Foothill College Student) “I’m going to a community college — I’m going to CSM (College of San Mateo). I think that’s a really great option because community college is basically free. … And at community college, I could take all the classes I want. I could explore if I want to take art or if I want to take some random science class — I could do that, and it won’t cost me $2000, it would only cost me $500. And I think that … even if you know what you want to do for college … community college would still be great … because you would be able to take as many classes as you want and you wouldn’t have the risk of losing all that money.” – Sarai Vasquez (Class of 2019) “I don’t think it’s possible to change that (the competitive college-centered culture) completely. It’s been increasing as years go by. Parents are starting to train their kids for SAT and college preparations at an earlier age. In order to slow it down, maybe talk to the parents. Appealing to the children will probably be less effective than appealing to the parents.” – Hyunwoo Roh (Class of 2019) “The things I heard when I was telling people that I wasn’t really applying to schools in the U.S. sometimes were surprisingly brutal, like people asking me if I could even get an education if I wasn’t going to school in the U.S. (I just heard) so many things where I’m like, ‘You need to get your head out of only the top schools in the U.S. being good schools and getting you anywhere in life because that’s not true.’ It all depends on what you make of it.” – Rosa Schaefer Bastian (Class of 2019) Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.