Diminished Identity

At 46 years old, University Prep is going through a midlife identity crisis. As a graduating senior, I do not see the same school I saw four years ago. UPrep has lost what makes it special. While COVID-19 has done lasting damage to the community of
UPrep, administrators need to do more to preserve the core aspects of UPrep’s identity.
I want administrators to prioritize thoughtfulness over speed of the school’s growth. While still under construction, the ULab promises to increase class sizes. This can already be seen in the increased freshman class. While the prospect of an expanding campus is exciting, I am worried about the loss of interpersonal connections between students, staff and teachers.
What makes UPrep so special is having a dozen or so teachers that you’ve known for years, who are always available for help or just a quick friendly chat. These relationships define the UPrep experience. Teachers greet us in the hallways, they coach our sports teams and they know what’s happening in our lives. I’m afraid that an increased student body and size of the school will make these kinds of relationships more difficult to foster and maintain and the intimacy of UPrep’s close-knit community will be lost.
With recent staff turnover, very few of my favorite teachers from the beginning of my time here are still here. After I graduate, I’d like to come back and visit my old school, but with so few of those connections remaining, I won’t have as much of a reason to.
Going forward, UPrep needs to make sure they retain their hired teachers and staff. Increased pay and benefits could be a good way to do this. Not only would the school be investing in their teachers, they’d be investing in the relationships those teachers have with their students.
This would serve to make students more comfortable with their teachers, which will obviously make learning far easier and more enjoyable. It will also strengthen alumni loyalty, which could mean more donations from graduates.
Going forward, our administrators need to double down on what makes our school unique. Conscious action needs to be taken to rebuild UPrep’s identity. Expansion is natural, but it should not come at the cost of our school’s identity.