February 13, 2019
BY DAVID MEHRAN Staff Reporter
Strolling down Burlingame Avenue, I hear a variety of sounds— the conversations of people eating outside, the murmur of car engines as they cruise past and the whirr of planes flying overhead. Sometimes, if a pedestrian is lucky and in the right place, they get a chance to listen to one of the several musicians who perform on
“I like it, it gives me a good feeling… and I personally believe it should continue” Burlingame Avenue. After the reconstruction of Burlingame Avenue in late 2014, foot traffic increased as more customers came to the Avenue in search of the emerging higher-end stores and a bustling but relatively clean and safe downtown environment.
As the Avenue attracted students from Burlingame High School, patrons from surrounding neighborhoods and cities, it became a destination to spend an afternoon dining outside, purchasing boba tea with friends and frequenting the numerous retail stores. As the number of visitors increased on the Avenue, so too did the number of buskers, individuals making music for money. The first musician I saw on the ave was a man with a saxophone sitting underneath the trellis in front of the Gap store. The music, while completely unsponsored, complemented the mood of downtown Burlingame. Not only were many people stopping to listen to the man play, but many left tips. Since then, I have witnessed a violinist, accordion-ist and even a man singing the blues into a microphone connected to a portable speaker, and playing the harmonica. He was named ‘Gary the Blues Guy.’ On a Friday afternoon, I observed a show from a professional three-person music group, accepting tips and selling their CDs. Throughout the month of December, an individual stands outside the Gap store, ringing a
5 PHOTO BY DAVID MEHRAN
Street musicians add to Avenue ambiance
Musicians are a common sight on the Avenue since the 2014 construction. bell to attract passersby and coax them into dropping donations into a Salvation Army can. Even the clanging of the bell, which some may consider to be just noise and not music, adds to the musical flavor of the cityscape. Given that musicians keep coming back, the Avenue seems to be a location to play for a bit and earn some cash. “I feel like I always have somewhere to go; I’m not just standing around listening to music … It’s nice, and it’s appreciated, but if it wasn’t there, I wouldn’t notice.” junior Michelle Tam said.
While pedestrians like Tam value the music of the Avenue, sometimes it goes unnoticed in the busy rush of daily activity. But for employees who spend hours working in the shops that line the street, it is a different story. “I like it, it gives me a good feeling … and I personally believe it should continue,” an Apple store security guard said. “I’ve seen, in some other places, people on the street playing and a lot of people passing through find it interesting, and stand and watch them for a few seconds or minutes, then con-
PHOTO BY CLAIRE HUNT
The difficult dilemma after the diploma BY CLAIRE HUNT Copy Editor
A student views his profile photo on the Tinder app.
Swiping right: students and Tinder BY CLAIRE HUNT Copy Editor Tinder has found its way onto Burlingame’s campus and into the phones of its students. The app itself is easy to use; users add pictures of themselves to their profile, along with a bio, age and name, and then start swiping. If an individual finds someone they are interested in, they swipe right. If two people swipe right on each other, Tinder makes a match and alerts each of them. From there, a person can initiate a conversation or even propose meeting in real life. Or they can just keep swiping. In June 2016, Tinder banned members under 18 years old from joining the app. Prior to this restriction, 7 percent of all Tinder users were between 13 and 17 years old. The new age restraint only allows legal adults to participate in the app. But that’s not stopping teenagers from using Tinder. “A lot of people I’ve met on Tinder, they originally say they’re 18 just so that they don’t get reported or blocked, but
once you get to know them they’re like, yeah, I’m actually 17,” senior Ryan Lowe said. Compared to other online dating apps, Tinder has achieved notoriety for arranging hookups rather than relationships. Typically, people looking for a long-term or committed relationship are advised to stay off this app, which has led to a particular culture and mark surrounding the platform. “Most people see it as a hookup app, and that’s generally the reputation Tinder has. Like, if you’re on Tinder, you’re just looking for a hookup, one-night stands, stuff like that,” Lowe said. For many, Tinder offers a way to meet new people and interact with strangers in a relatively safe environment. Its reputation as a strictly casual way to meet or initiate sexual encounters can be misleading, especially for high school students. “I think a lot of people just talk to people on Tinder but then never end up actually meeting them,” senior Sami Shibli said. “But,” he added, “I do know
people who have actually met up and done the dirty stuff.” For the majority of student users, however, Tinder is used primarily to meet and talk to new people. “[My friends] initially downloaded it as a joke, but then they realized that they could actually meet new people and kept using it as a platform for that purpose,” senior Sofia Zaragoza said. The majority of Burlingame students do not use Tinder. More common with upperclassmen, the app is not as prevalent among the general student population as other social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. Although online dating has become a prominent way to form relationships in the last few decades, it is less popular among teenagers than other age groups. “I think online dating has become more popular but not necessarily for people in high school,” Zaragoza said. “I think social media and meeting people through common friends is a more typical way for high school students to meet new people.”
tribute something, and I personally like it.” Musicians playing on the Avenue are a mixed group. Some are professional musical groups that regularly perform on the street, members of the homeless community just trying to earn tips and, particularly during the holiday season, individuals raising money to donate to charity. Regardless, they all contribute to the dynamic atmosphere of Burlingame Avenue.
To many students, the college process is becoming more competitive. The myth of the perfect student with the top test scores, GPA and most extracurriculars is becoming less of an exception and more of an expectation for our generation. “I think it’s gotten harder because of the quality of the applicants. We’re pushing everybody towards college. Whether that’s best for everybody is another thing. But it feels to me like there are more qualified applicants, and these schools just don’t have as many spots,” Jonathan Dhyne, Burlingame’s college and career counselor, said. According to Statista, total college enrollment increased by roughly 240 percent from 1965 to 2016. That means more applicants applying for fewer spaces, leading to increased academic competition and more stress for students. On the positive side, colleges are becoming more involved in student outreach. Yearly, colleges buy more than 80 million names of test takers from the College Board, according to Ivy Coach. “My dad went to UC Santa Barbara, and he was a good student, but he wasn’t a great student. Now to get into Santa Barbara, people have to excel in everything and have great grades and test scores. I think that if he were applying to college now he might not get in, whereas it was kind of guaranteed then,” senior Chloe McNamara said. “It definitely has gotten harder over the past 20 years.” In 2017, college acceptance rates reached an all-time low
at 4.65 percent, according to Ivy Wise. Further, of the top ten schools with the highest number of applications, nine are in California, meaning students in our area are put under even more pressure. “I think it was competitive 20 years ago too, but I am seeing parents getting more involved and becoming more obsessed with the process than they were 20 years ago. Back then, it seemed like it was more up to the students,” private college counselor Michelle Sklaver said. “Now I think there is more emphasis on ‘college prep,’ which creates a more competitive pool. I’m talking about people hiring college coaches to help with college essays, people doing Khan Academy to improve SAT scores, etc.” Students spend thousands of dollars every year on SAT tutoring, summer programs that are said to increase their chances of getting into their dream school and other programs to boost their resumes. 20 years ago, college counseling was unheard of. Today it is seen as an integral part of the academic experience. An entire industry of college preparation has been created out of our generation’s increased anxiety about getting into colleges. “I would definitely say that school is more competitive now. Our generation, especially in the Bay Area, has been taught to think that every test and grade is life or death and mistakes are unacceptable,” junior Madeleine Greene said. “I think we feel less certain about our futures than previous generations, so we cling to our goals of success in school and prestigious colleges to make us think we will be OK.”