The Catholic Times' writer on spirituality recalls walking passed a high school and seeing over the main gate a placard with the name of a student and the college he will be entering. The writer surmises it was big news for the community to have a student from the high school accepted in one of the country's top colleges.
More significant, he thought, than placing a placard at the entrance to the school, strange as that may seem, would be asking how much discussion went into the decision and whether any consideration was given to some of the possible results of labeling a student in such a manner; and did they also consider, he wonders, what the other students in his class might make of this singling out of this one student?
The writer, a priest, who worked in a mental hospital for many years, remembers a young man he came to know many years before. He was very talented and had his own placard when he graduated from high school. He attended one of the top colleges, and in his third year decided to leave and follow another dream. He wanted to get rid of the pressure he experienced from the many years of study.
However, when he left college, he couldn't forget the past and the 'placard of success' the sugar covered poison from his high school. He had difficulty sleeping, becoming restless and irritated, acting strangely and talking gibberish; he soon was admitted to a mental hospital.
The priest had many talks with the young man during his period of recovery; the young man was finding it difficult to adapt to every day life. He couldn't forget the expectations family and friends had for him. The placard over the gate of his high school was determining his life; it was a mold that all his expectations were being forced into. And knowing he was also at fault made it all the harder for him to accept.
He concludes his column with the columnist's own reflections. Don't, he says, put students into a mold and make them follow what first-class colleges and departments want for their students. Let them dream. Don't let one exam determine how a person is to live his life. Discard words like first-class colleges and first-class departments. His own dream is to see a day that not all have to follow their strong points to the detriment of a healthy and rewarding life in society.