Honor Roll or Onerous_The Great Bumper Sticker Debate


I was not a good student. When my first child entered school, I anticipated a higher proportion of effort than achievement in her school years. So I was pleasantly surprised when she started bringing home great report cards. Nonetheless, I am dreading the day she gets to middle school, where kids get those bumper stickers that proclaim honor student status. Maybe I’m projecting my own academic inferiority onto the situation, but I am ambivalent about the bumper stickers. And I’m only ambivalent because now I know my daughter will get one. Before that, I was downright bitter about them.So in preparation for her middle school years, I have been trying to come up with some adjustments to the honor roll bumper sticker.

1. Get them off the cars for crying out loud.

Is it really that important that I know the car ahead of me is transporting a potential Nobel Prize winner? Is it like those “Baby on Board” signs? Do you think the sticker will make me drive more carefully around you? Cause it won’t. Frankly, it just makes me want to rear end your minivan. I suggest instead that we use personalized signs for the yards. Sports teams use those, so why not honor roll students? If you don’t want to see a yard sign, you can just choose a different route. With a bumper sticker, you’re trapped. You travel block after block staring at it. I suspect that we will someday learn that a high percentage of road rage incidents were ignited by honor roll bumper stickers.

2. Make the bragging adaptable to the situation.

It’s ironic that the schools by me start distributing the bumper stickers in middle school—right around the time kids start to be embarrassed by them. While my daughter is currently anticipating the day she can get one, I know that when she is 13, she will feel differently. A switch to magnetic stickers will allow us to leave the bumper bare when carpooling a group of friends, but adorn the van for a trip to see Grandma (who hands out money when her grandchildren make the honor roll). Heck, for family parties, we could get personalized banners!

3. Offer more options.

Everybody gets to be student of the week at least once a year. How about something for that? Having custom pens celebrating a variety of positive qualities sends a better message than handing out pens to only the A students and leaving the rest feeling bumper envy.
I understand that school is mostly about academics. And believe, me, I think excellence should be acknowledged. I just think the middle school years are fraught with enough heartache and angst. Why make it harder than it has to be?

Jessica writes about a wide variety of topics. She especially enjoys writing about business. You can learn more about Custom pens at

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