In 2001, the former Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Humes,"Undercover" California public school Whitney High School (Whitney High School), Experience firsthand the daily campus life of students and teachers. For a year, he was interviewing at this top North American high school, listening to classes, participating in activities, and even taking exams with students.

In the end, he wrote a book "What is the best middle school in America" ​​(School of Dreams).

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Let’s get to know Whitney High School first. According to the latest ranking of USNews 2018,Whitney High School ranks No. 1 in California and No. 33 in the United States, Ranked 12th among the best STEM high schools in the country. The parents moved their families all the way to the school district near Whitney High School.Only for the children to have the opportunity to enter this prestigious model school.

Whitney High School, located in Cerritos, California
At the beginning of the first chapter, Humes used this sentence as the title:
The Devil's Number at Whitney High School-4
4 hours of sleep, 4 cups of coffee latte, 4.0 GPA
Wait, isn't this sentence referring to senior high school students in China? This is the daily routine of Whitney High School students:

In order to get the highest GPA of 4.0,The students at Whitney High School sleep only 4 hours a day and drink 4 cups of coffee every day, To ensure that you can study energetic.
American middle schools start at 8 in the morning and end at 3 in the afternoon. It seems that academics are not onerous?然而很多学生每天凌晨1、2点睡下,早上6、7点醒来,一天只睡4、5个小时. This is no easier than domestic high school third-year candidates!

Someone once calculated that a student of Whitney High School for one yearTo carry 112 pounds of textbooks, which is about 102 kilograms. This is very different from the impression of American education. In order to apply for college, American students also need to work hard like "head hanging beams and thorns."

Kosha is one such example. As a model student and character of Whitney High School, Kosha is a cheerleader that everyone admires. Her class schedule is the same as extracurricular activities.

Kosha doesn't spend a long time doing homework every day. Like most students, he can complete basic homework in 4 hours. However, in order to be admitted to a good university,She also needs to spend extra energy on a lot of reading and analytical writing in order to complete reports and research assignments.

The purpose of American education is to cultivate ability, emphasizing independence and critical thinking. Therefore, in many cases, teachers will not set the rules for students in advance, but let students play freely. In order to complete the homework, students have to go to the library to look up a lot of materials, forming a unique and logical insight.

For this reason, Kosha every dayMust maintain at least 80 pages of reading. These academic contents are profound and difficult to understand. To fully understand them, it takes an extra 5-6 hours to look up data every day.

In the last year of high school, in addition to the original 8 courses,Kosha also took 5 AP courses (Advanced Placement class, referred to as AP), Including economics, Spanish, English literature, physics, advanced calculus.

The amount of these tasks is equivalent to the entire academic year of American universities.But Kosha has to squeeze to complete it in less than a semester.

Do you think her schoolwork burden is enough to make people busy?

To fully understand Kosha's day, in addition to the 5 hours of school classes a day, 2 hours of cheerleading training, 1 hour of history teaching assistant work, student union planning, Model United Nations activities, extracurricular and weekend tuition classes , University application preparation, and her active participation in the "Miss California High School" contest.

Every day, Kosha will go home at around 6 o'clock after finishing his after-school activities, and after a simple meal, he will re-invest in learning until the early morning.

The data shows that in recent years, the proportion of students with high grades in various standardized grades has increased significantly. Among the applicants last year, there were 1500 high school students with a SAT score of more than 145000, a 71% increase from the previous year. andThis year, New York University’s applicants have exceeded 8.5. When the standardized scores are generally higher and applicants cannot rely on this to distinguish the winners and losers, extracurricular activities have become another battlefield for competition. Just like Kosha, they devote a lot of time to extracurricular activities, looking for their "distinctive highlights".

Seeing the students at Yalishan University, Humes couldn't help but urge the students to relax and consider this application process as a fun event. However, he was ruthlessly complained by the students: "You might as well ask us to take off our shoes, walk barefoot on the broken glass, and enjoy the fun! ”

This anxiety disorder is especially severe on campuses with top academic performance. Although Whitney High School is the number one school in California, its performance is among the best in the country, but what students say every day is: "If I can’t get into Harvard, Yale, or MIT, my life will be over.. "

Their enterprising parents are also more minded: "If you can't get into Harvard, Yale, or MIT, how can we have the face to meet relatives and friends?!"

In the United States, the new generation of young people have high achievements and great pressure.

Their despair is not because they failed a subject, but because they did not get an A;They work hard to learn their schoolwork and participate in extracurricular activities, not because of interest, but to make their resumes more "sparkly and lovely".

There are nearly 6000 universities in the United States, and almost all people can go to college. However, if it is not for graduating from a prestigious school, the way out in the future will still be difficult. Did you receive a thick "Welcome to Harvard" envelope stuffed with the Freshman Handbook in your mailbox, or just a thin piece of paper with the chilling "Dear applicant, we are sorry..." Envelope?

This thick and thin, condensed is the desperate and final destination of American students for six years.

American education is highly inclusive, but because of this, the competition behind it has become more intense.

If your ideal in life is to be inactive, calm, and live your life in peace.You can indeed graduate with a safe, unremarkable score and live the life you want.

But if you have ideals and ambitions and want to work with the best group of people in the world, you must follow the "rules of the game" and become the 5%, or even 1%, of the American education system.



It is not only American high school students who need intensive study.

The well-known blogger Sang Sang (WeChat public account: Waistline) has always been very confident in raising a baby. With the aura of "Chinese people are sure to learn well", she is very at ease about her children's education in the United States.At a parent meeting, Sister Sang Sang accidentally discovered that although her child who had just entered the first grade of elementary school seemed to have achieved a decent grade, in fact, she was far behind her classmates in the United States..

"Although she has outperformed 70% of all American students, in our class, she has not even reached the average score." Sister Sang Sang's child's head teacher said.

When they were raising their children, the other students in the class were already intensively tutoring: math, piano, dance... the comprehensive development of sound quality and physical beauty started from the baby. All to be the 5%.

The so-called others have been born in Rome, but they work harder than you. After removing the veil of "easy education", we discovered that American students are also studying hard.School district housing, cram schools, hierarchical teaching, the educational strategy of American families has also been carefully deployed from elementary school. If you want to be one step ahead of others, you have to work thousands of times. From children to parents, no one has the right to stop and rest.

The eighty-two rule says that 80% of the world's wealth (not only material) is controlled by 20% of the people. And you can only become the 80% if you work harder than 20%.


At that time, "Tiger Mother" Amy Chua became famous in the United States for her high-pressure education methods, which attracted criticism from countless people. Some people even predicted on the spot: Under this kind of "torture", your daughters will have psychological problems sooner or later, and your education will fail.

A group photo of the “tiger mother” family at the graduation ceremony of the youngest daughter Lulu’s high school
Over the years, when the media once again focused on the Tiger’s mother’s family, it was discovered that after her eldest daughter graduated from Harvard, she continued to study for a Yale Master of Laws and joined the U.S. Army at the same time; her younger daughter was about to graduate from the Art History Department of Harvard University, with an average GPA of 3.9.
In March of this year, the New York Post specifically reported on the current situation of the youngest daughter Lulu with the headline:IRaised by "tiger mother", her method is successful.

In the past two years of college advancement, Whitney High School has achieved fruitful results: among the 2017 graduates, 30% of the students got MIT, Yale University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Stanford University, John Hope Letters of acceptance from top private universities such as Kings University.46% of students enter the top universities in the California public system such as the University of California, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

The graduation ceremony of Whitney High School
If we say that China’s education tells you that you must study hard and get good grades in the test to change your destiny and realize your ideals. The American education is that you don’t have to work hard,You can live this life your own way, But if you want to achieve class leaps and become the 1% of people, no one will tell you the rules, you need to explore it yourself and prove that you are qualified. It’s like giving you a test paper with no standard answers, but telling you,You must be close to full marks to pass the test.

The selection method to "standardize" may be more stringent than standardization.