Just seeing the title, your mind might probably recall the recent drama linked to the word “potential”. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d likely be able to guess it right—it’s none other than the infamous tweet of a senior high school (SHS) student claiming that college students are “threatened” by SHS students because they possess “more potential.”

Just a quick disclaimer: this is not a rant, but simply a refresher on the importance of understanding that education is not a competition.

The K-12 program was not implemented to merely “catch up” to the education standards of other countries, but to further develop the education system in the Philippines—which has, for whatever reason, led to a clash between senior high and college students.

Unfortunately, just months after the first batch of K-12 came to DLSU-D, tension brewed between the SHS and college students a year ago after the shared learning commons facility in our library sparked a DLSU-D Secret Files confession post from a college student—the one majority are familiar with. Other issues regarding the shared facilities were raised as well, including the now-SHS-congested food square, kubos, tambayans, and even the Ikot La Salle jeepneys. Another confession post, from a SHS student this time, stated (non-verbatim) how a certain subject (okay, it’s about math) is easy for them to learn, while college students complain about how hard it is for them almost every day. These are only some of the few complaints thrown by SHS and college students to each other—complaints that are, suffice to say, petty. See, none of this will lead to any improvement of the situation.

Education is not a competition.

Going back to the viral Facebook post of the SHS student who said they have more “potential” than college students, truth be told, the post only speaks more of that particular student’s attitude and maturity—or lack thereof—than it does about their “potential” or competency.

And what exactly does “potential” mean? Does it imply that college students have “less potential” given that they didn’t undergo the additional two years of education? Because that’s far from accurate. No matter what situation you’re in or the circumstances you’re given, anyone—and I mean, anyone—has the potential to go far in whatever path they may choose. Education is not the sole basis of whether you have potential or not, because potential comes from the person itself. There are countless stories of people who finished college but didn’t “make it” in the real world, and just as many stories of college dropouts who persevered despite their circumstances.

Life 101: Potential is about what we do with our circumstances—not what our circumstances do to us. It’s about how a person can strive to be better without being chained by the locks of society’s standards.

I’m not here to make you feel guilty for being a SHS student or annoy you for dedicating a column to SHS students—I’m here to relay a simple message. We’re part of the same community, we’re studying in the same school, and we’re all working to attain the same goal: to become a useful member of the society that will work toward the betterment of our country. So, we’re certainly not here to start a competition with each other over who’s the winner or loser. Because first of all, to even have the mentality that there are winners and losers in education is not something to be proud of.

Whether we’re college kids or high school students, we’re still very much lacking in a lot of ways, but it’s a matter of not letting that get to us and choosing to take the high road. Let’s start by quitting throwing shade at each other, may it be through posts online or gossip in school. Any of these might only spark a petty flame that’s better off dead. Because, honestly, when we talk about our potential, then we might as well consider encouraging others to fulfill their potential too, without dragging anyone down while we’re at it. This may be easy to say and hard to do, but trust me, it’s going to be worth the time, effort, and patience.

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