This photo taken April 9, 2019, shows, Craig Middle School eighth-graders venting their frustration as their solution in the "Algebra Escape Room" competition. The math contest for advanced students was held at the Abilene Independent School District headquarters in Abilene, Texas. Credit: Ronald W. Erdrich / The Abilene Reporter-News via AP

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When I ask where the other students are from in national events such as Computing Olympiad, Math Competition, and college course lectures, 90 percent are from California, New York, or Massachusetts. I was the only student from Maine at those events.

There is a significant disparity in awareness of educational opportunities between big states and small states. According to the Ivy League statistics, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, California, and Texas – so-called big and rich states –  represent the most students in those schools. One major reason is that the network systems in bigger states foster the next generation of prestigious universities.

Reflecting on personal experiences, people from bigger states told me that there is a beneficial feedback loop. Students who graduated from prestigious universities return to their high schools and provide information about how they improved themselves. Then, those high school students accomplish as great students. The longer this convention continues, the better the information about extracurriculars, essay tips, or study guides is accumulated. This cultural competition over better information and opportunities results in both quantitative and qualitative superiority of education.

To improve the network systems in smaller states, it is crucial to focus on nationwide educational opportunities such as olympiads, national art fairs, or national sports competitions to raise the standard of the goals. Thus, schools should actively promote seeking student activities beyond the local level or state level. To maximize their potential, schools and the government should provide as many resources as possible regardless of the student’s geographical location.

Eric Lim

Bangor