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An Open Letter to Former Public School Kids

Dear Former Public School Kid,

What exactly does this mean? “Public School Kid”? Well, it means that like me, you did not attend a K-12 priavte Christian or Catholic school or even go to a private religious high school. Funny enough, if you are also like me, you now find yourself attending a private Catholic university (Go Zags!). You probably never expected to be here, but in all honesty, you can’t imagine being anywhere else. 

Now let me clarify a couple of things: 1. Attending a private school prior to going to college doesn’t neccessarily make you better than someone who went to public school and vice versa.  2. Although public schools are free for all students and private schools charge a yearly tuition similar to universities, that does not always mean that you will automatically receive a better education from the institution that charges you money and has the authority to turn away unqualified students. There are a number of very competitve public high schools near my home town. 

I do however believe that there are some unique advantages that come with the experience of going to a public school. Personally, I went to a “run of the mill” public high school, but it was fairly large (about 1,800 students total) which provided us with a very diverse and heterogenous student body. Yes, not everyone wanted to pursue a higher education, challenge themselves academically and participate in sports and clubs, but nonetheless, my high school experience showed me what adversity is. It showed me what the real world looked like. Because not everyone came from the same socioeconomic background with two working parents, I was able to see the differences in how people live their lives, how they overcome adversity and deal with the cards that are handed to them. Not everyone was the same. 

With that said, private college (and college in general) is a whole new ball game. Specifically in the areas of religion and philosophy. As a public school kid, you probably had never taken a religion or philosophy class in your life. I know that was and still is a difficult subject area for me. Most students in my freshman religion class for example had read the Bible before and knew at least some of the stories because they had heard them in school, church, or both. Despite their difficulty, religion and philosophy actually continue to be some of my favorite college classes. 

My prior education did not prepare me for Plato, Socrates, Adam and Eve, and the Gospels of Jesus. It just didn’t. But I am here to tell you that that is OK! College is meant to be a place in which you and your knowledge expands. You are not expected to have all of the answers; if you did have all the answers, you would never learn and grow as a person. Therefore what I am getting at here is this – although it may seem like your public school education did not adequately prepare you for college (in comparison to your peers who recieved a private school education) it shaped you into the person you are today, and you should never regret that. As long as you continue to develop and better yourself in all aspects of life, you can never be in the wrong. 

Sincerely,

A Former Public School Kid

Kristen Jost

Gonzaga '19

Kristen is a senior at Gonzaga University studying a communication and promotion. She is a social media coordinator for her chapter as well as an executive board member and founding member. After college, she hopes to travel before settling down to work for a marketing firm that specializes in sports and higher education branding. Her hobbies include: watching sporting events, wandering around book stores, drinking too much coffee, discovering new places, and staying active outdoors.
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