Uni kids aren’t special (Nanopinions)

Isabela Lleras

Part of the series Nanopinions: Bite-sized Hot Takes

I believe that getting accepted into Uni for most kids is a life-changing experience. Uni seems to be either a place where they really want to go because it is like “Hogwarts” or getting in makes their parents happy, which in turn makes them happy. But getting into Uni is not just important because it is a long-term goal for kids. I have realized it is also falsely validating.

I have seen that the idea that kids who go to Uni are “special” and “unique” and different from, if not better than, kids who go to other public schools, is extremely prevalent in the culture and set-up of Uni. I believe this mindset is dangerous, sets up Uni kids up for social failure, and gives them a false sense of entitlement that is detrimental.

For one, after speaking to others who came to Uni from public schools, I feel as though the entire idea of applying to Uni sets “Uni kids” apart from others at their school. At public schools, it is not uncommon to see “Uni kids in the making”, or groups of especially academically centered, usually upper middle class white and Asian, kids. They are in the “accelerated” math classes, and occasionally get roughed around by other people who perceive them as nerds.

Applying to Uni for them seems like a rite of passage.

Not to mention every Uni kid I have spoken to, including myself, has the same stories of being told since kindergarten that they are “special” and read above their grade level and learned their multiplication tables two years early. We have been told we were special our entire life.

Furthermore, I have heard that many of the public elementary school students from Champaign who end up at Uni were in a “gifted program” and separated from their classmates based on “intelligence”.

However, through my conversations with some seniors, I have observed the nasty shock of reality comes to some of these 12-year-old kids when they find that half of their friend group has been rejected from Uni, with the others being accepted. And instead of thinking that part of the admissions process must be random, as their friends are just as smart and valid compared to them, the kids who got in just end up believing they must be smarter.

Sometimes when I try and explain this concept to others, it is tricky. But coming from Urbana Middle School, and being referenced as having come from a “trash” place, I have definitely been on the receiving end of some of the negative biases Uni kids have against public school kids.

I believe that kids at Uni need to recognize that there are kids at public schools that are as smart or smarter than us, and to not invalidate someone because they do not come from an expensive private school.

I think that Uni’s subconscious biases which lead to the divide between Uni kids and public schools when in actuality, we should be collaborating more with public schools.