I grew up in rural Pennsylvania.
My high school sat next to a sewage treatment plant, on a hill below the elementary school that was condemned when it began to sink into the ground. :)
My mom, a single immigrant mother, knew nothing about the college admissions process. She did not know to advise me to take the SAT, nor did she know how to apply to college. A typical latchkey kid, I was on my own much of my childhood.
Therefore, I was shocked when I overheard my classmates in Calculus class excitedly discussing when they would be taking a mysterious exam.
“An exam? That you had to study for?”
I was very confused, but knew well enough to ask my mom to sign me up for it when I got home that day.
With no preparation, I walked into the testing center that day and took my exam. My score was not great.
I was not the valedictorian.
I did not invent anything or perform any specialized research.
I spend my summers working full-time as a lifeguard.