By Sierra Schupp, Athens Drive High School, Raleigh, NC
Education in public schools is free, but the price of being an active student in high schools can be costly. Besides going to class every day, students have to pay for any extracurricular activities of their high school lives. It seems that students with more money get a higher advantage than those with less.
Students want to have as much fun as possible in high school. They want to be on a sports team or cheer from the stands, be involved in their favorite clubs, be able to drive to and from school and off-campus, get outstanding grades and academic recognition, attempt to have the most school spirit and, of course, graduate. But in sad reality, none of these fun high school experiences are possible without one thing: money.
If students want to be on an athletic team, they have to pay for all the equipment, pay to get a physical and pay for any team attire such as t-shirts, jackets, etc. All of this is required, not optional. Everything they need to play can add up to anywhere from $50 to 500. Players are practically paying to be on the team.
Not only does it cost players, but it costs family, friends and fellow students an average of five or six dollars to go to a football, basketball, soccer or lacrosse game to watch and support their high school sports teams. Fans are forced to pay just for having a little school spirit.
School spirit is a big trend in most high schools. The more spirit the better the school, as well as more money. Athens students love to deck themselves out in blue-and-orange, but school attire is not free. Students basically have to go buy as much Athens apparel as they can in order to be decorated completely in their school colors.
Students are encouraged to join numerous clubs in order to be active in their school and impress colleges, but being in multiple clubs can be pricey. Usually there is a fee to be a member of the club when students first join and sometimes students have no idea what that money is used for. Even worse, when clubs or even classes have fundraisers, often students are forced to pay if they do not meet the set amount.
Administrators believe it is easy to go around and ask people to support a good cause, but in reality it can be an unreasonably tough responsibility, and parents often end up having to reach into their own pocket. The same is true for athletic fundraisers.
Besides sports and clubs, students also have to juggle all their classes, but this is not an easy task. If students grades slip, students often end up needing a tutor in order to bring their grade back up. Of course, tutors are not free, but if a student is not doing well in a class a tutor would be necessary. Clubs and athletics may be an option, but passing a class is not.
Not to mention, students who work so hard to take AP classes and want college credit have to pay $85 just to take the exam. It costs $50 to take the SAT, and SAT classes available for students who want to prepare for it cost $250 each. Basically students who want to do well in school have to pay for it.
When students become juniors and seniors, the price of coming to school goes up even higher. If students want to have the freedom of driving themselves to school, and the majority do, a parking pass costs $170. Plus it costs another $5 for a lunch pass. It already costs enough money to pay for gas and on top of that students have to pay just to park and drive off campus.
Another enjoyable part of being an upperclassman is prom, but there is a catch. Each ticket costs $40. Not to mention that the price of prom dresses and tuxedos, dinner, transportation, corsages, hair, makeup and all other prom basics can add up to a fortune.
Yearbooks are supposed to hold student’s high school memories, but those memories costs $70 and then the price goes up to $90 after March. Most students do not even bother getting one except for their senior year. Plus if seniors decide to get their senior pictures put in the yearbook that costs another $35 for the studio fee and from $100 to 500 for the package.
Another event added to seniors’ checkbook is graduation. Caps and gowns are the basics and they alone cost $35. Anything extra such as class rings, jewelry and announcements at graduation can add up to around $400. Seniors even have to pay $45 for the Progress Energy Center, where the graduation this year is being held. There is even a graduation fee; yes, a fee to graduate; $43. So even when students have successfully completed high school, they have to pay to finally leave.
On the other hand, it would make sense that students have to pay for these high school experiences. Virtually nothing in life is free and none of these activities are necessarily required, it is the students’ own choice and therefore their decision on what they care to spend money on. Of course students always have the option talk to their counselor, teacher or coach about financial issues and come up with solutions.
High school students who want to do something extra at their school essentially end up having to pay for it. Whether they want to be the star football player, challenge themselves with AP courses or simply graduate, there is a price that has to be paid. So in truth, students with more money can achieve more and have loads more fun. Even though this does not seem fair, there is not much schools can do about it and it is just a sad fact of life in general.the original article from hsj.org, written by Sierra Schupp