Outside the Bubble

in Editorials | April 19, 2024

Lawrentians—international, local, and everything in between—come from all walks of life, each deciding to give up their unique home and community to attend the School. In doing so, many of us willingly surrender living at home and partaking in daily routines with our families. However, some simple liberties, such as staying up as late as you want or going over to friends’ houses without restrictions, disappear after committing to a school like Lawrenceville. The absence of these seemingly trivial freedoms, in conjunction with losing frequent access to family, friends, and a more “traditional” high school experience, causes a plethora of students to feel as if something fundamental is missing from their high school experiences. While, yes, some of these sacrifices are a known part of coming to boarding school and receiving an early introduction to independence, the ingrained structure of Lawrenceville life accustoms us to an isolating, mundane teenage experience that conflicts with Lawrenceville’s aims to facilitate our exposure to new experiences and maturation into adulthood. 

Objectively, one of the easiest ways to learn and widen one’s worldview is through exploration, a method illustrated by the school’s focus on promoting interesting courses and diverse cultural experiences. Yet, by inhibiting less structured interconnection with people inside and outside the Lawrenceville bubble, the administration undermines its own efforts as students begin to see everything through the lens of Lawrenceville. 

Moreover, Lawrenceville’s rigid structure confines students to routines, leaving Lawrentians stuck in monotonous loops and unstimulating experiences. Constantly surrounding yourself with the same people and rhetoric makes the quest of discovering our true, more evolved self much more difficult, not to mention removing the variety and color that should constitute a normal teenage experience. Part of the fun of growing up is meeting different people and gaining insight into their lives, and though Lawrenceville boasts a wonderfully diverse student body, we must acknowledge we experience the same broad strokes of life for the majority of the year. 

All 800+ Lawrentians, despite our vibrant backgrounds and lived experiences, find ourselves rushing to change for sports at 3 pm and bemoaning the latest Tsai dinner, leaving us a limited pool of repetitive anecdotes that render our conversations uninspired and routine. The constant churn of the school week—commitment after commitment with little sleep in between—is draining. How can we develop our unique sense of self without properly interacting with the world around us? Does Lawrenceville owe us an escape from its demands so we can forge a personal journey that outlasts our highschool vicissitudes? 

Though genuine and dynamic, Lawrenceville’s attitude toward exposure critically overlooks the simple treasure of informal interactions with other kids our age. While School Meeting performances and conversations with professionals are incredible educational tools, something as simple as a casual conversation with a peer from another school works wonders to alleviate occasional feelings of being “trapped in a bubble.” For example, our student community tends towards liberal political attitudes, and oftentimes a conversation with someone outside the school can recalibrate our initial opinions on the latest political controversy. If every conversation we have surrounds Lawrenceville, our experiences in our own communities are often left unexpressed, and thus, over time, diminished.

There are many ways for Lawrenceville to tap into our wider community’s resources and encourage students’ personal growth. By widening the pool in which we interact, we can avoid having every conversation gravitate to the same thing—Lawrenceville. Take our future weekends with the new schedule, for example: The discourse surrounding Saturday classes causes some to worry that Lawrenceville will become a desolate, boring place over the weekend. Yet, a more relaxed and unscheduled weekend will grant students space to embark on their own explorations, like an impromptu trip to Princeton that could give us another slice of the world we are missing, or just give us something else to talk about. As much as a school like Lawrenceville defines our adolescence, it cannot and should not overtake our lives. There is much to learn beyond these red-brick buildings.