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February 7, 2018

Real High School vs. YA High School --- Guest Post by Teen Board Member Wren L.


As my time in high school comes to a close, I have been looking back on these four years and thinking about what I have done and where I am going.

Something that stands out is the lack of connection between the high school life I read about in books and the reality of high school. There are so many things in high school that are not truthfully represented in books.

Here is a list of events or characterizations that young adult fiction gets wrong about high school.

1) There are cliques --- but people intermingle more.

Ah. The classic high school trope: the clique. While I have been in groups of close friends, such as those who have grown up together and those who are in similar extracurriculars, I have seen people who are in the broadcast program also play football. I have seen people in International Baccalaureate also sing in the choir. There is no set boundary between groups. Sure, some people might be exclusive, but that does not mean the entire group is.

2) Dances are not that fun.

Though I have no personal experience with this, I have been told that dances such as prom and homecoming involve more A) drinking and B) grinding than anything else. The afterparties might be as insane as books say they are, but the dances themselves are not that much fun. Many people have told me that homecoming is terrible because no one does anything. Sorry, but dance battles and impromptu skits just do not happen in real life.

3) Grades are more important than life for some.

This might just be my school, but grades are very important. So much so that cheating has become the norm (even if that is depressing). Most books do not show characters studying which is false because I know people who stay up late into the night studying. Some people pull all-nighters too often to get the A+.

4) Weekend romps are unlikely.

This goes back to the idea that grades are important. Most people are too busy studying to do anything. It is different in the second semester of senior year, but I honestly doubt that many of my friends are partying when they should be studying.

5) You probably will not find your true love in high school.

We all have heard the stories of high school sweethearts marrying later in life, but I honestly do not think most of the couples in high school will stay together. Whether it is because of college or lack of commitment or other reasons, high school couples do not seem to last past senior year. If they do, that is amazing, and I applaud those couples. That takes a lot of effort and work. Unless you are at the same college, the relationship might not last.

All of this said, books do get the partying right (if you are looking at certain groups of people). They also get the complicated relationships right. It might be my experience with high school, but I do not see many similarities between the portrayal of high school in books and the reality of high school. Perhaps, I will find a book that does high school justice one day.