The Unconventional Convention

Sydney - Berkeley, California
Entered on October 15, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Throughout my experience of attending an independent high school and

returning to a conventional high school, I discovered that

independence and self-motivation comprise a significant part of my

personal structure. I now believe in the importance of taking car of

myself, making my own decisions and solving my own problems.

Halfway through my sophomore year I decided to leave Las Lomas, my

traditional high school, to pursue the independent study program at

Venture School. At that time, I felt the structure at Las Lomas was

too confining. I wanted do more than just attend school, and I felt

overly directed by the school to the extent that I was not allowed to

make my own decisions about how I spent my time. I was compelled to

branch out and broaden my life. In addition to attending school, I

wanted to have a job and get out into the world. I seriously

considered spending a year abroad in New Zealand as part of my high

school education. I did all of the research and investigation

necessary to move forward with the program. It was extremely

important to me to be on my own within a structured environment that a

school could provide. I was excited at the prospect of being entirely

on my own in a new and unfamiliar place. Unfortunately, the program

was full, and I was unable to go.

In a similar way to studying abroad, Venture offered me the

opportunity to continue my education while increasing my independence.

My decision to be independent was one that I made despite the strong

disapproval of my friends. I was able to be strong with my decision

because I believed in what was right for me. At Venture, I was able

to make my own schedule and maintain a full course load while working

approximately 20 hours per week at a variety of jobs. In addition,

this independent lifestyle enabled me to keep my social connections

thriving as much as ever. Ostensibly, I had everything I wanted.

However, I soon discovered that my independence and self-motivation

were stronger within a pre-established structure, and I found myself

longing to return to Las Lomas.

In the middle of my junior year, I made the decision to return to my

traditional high school. Again, this decision required a great deal

of independence and self-motivation to make happen. There were

numerous bureaucratic and logistical problems to solve including

meeting with counselors, obtaining transcripts, interdistrict

transfers, and dealing with pervasive negative attitudes from friends

and family. I knew clearly what I wanted and needed for myself, and

this gave me counsel to persist until my objective for returning to

Las Lomas was met. The experience of attending an independent school

and returning to a conventional school has helped me tremendously. I

feel more focused, directed, and successful. I believe that my

experience over the year in independent study taught me to hone and

develop my self-motivation: to isolate problems and solve those

problems on my own. I strongly believe that my independence and

self-motivation within a structured environment will help me excel at

a college or University.