High School: Media v.s. Reality


High school isn’t like the movies. Image from Pexels.com.

Hollywood has portrayed high school in a highly unrealistic way. From Gossip Girl, Clueless, High School Musical, to Hannah Montanna and Glee, are we seeing what high school is really like?

The entertainment industry that produces movies and shows influences the teen’s mind on the ideal high school experience. Some films show the school in a positive sense, taking High School Musical for example. In these movies, you see students singing and dancing throughout the school, then coming home and spending the rest of the day hanging out with friends. The students connect, and all seem to have the time to hang out and talk throughout the school day.

On the other end of the spectrum, other movies show all the negativity, showing all possible ways school could go wrong. Films and shows always seem to ignore the one part of school that everyone cares about: education. In reality, the expectations are much higher. Students wake up in the early morning and drag their feet around the school. They face numerous challenges, and high stress levels if they do not stay on top of their work.

The high school experience usually seems to have a social hierarchy on television based on looks, popularity, and wealth. Although we can draw slight similarities between our reality and what is portrayed in the shows we watch, it is clear that the separation of jocks, popular students, nerds, etc., isn’t true. In actuality, friend groups are less based on popularity but more on the time they have known each other and their common interests and personalities.

Furthermore, movies show high school to be primarily occupied with parties, fights, and drama, but for most students, this is false. Yes, there is lots of drama around school, but not anything like what you’ll see in Gossip Girl. Students are not on-outs to go to war with each other with blackmail and rumors. There is plenty of teen drama going around every campus, but it never escalates into a nuclear war. Hollywood takes these fake dramas and has them only affect a small group of students in the school, making them the main characters, and exaggerates them to create an entire entertaining show.

The idea of parties and fights, you will usually find this to be more realistic in college. High school parties are very uncommon, and fights don’t break out as often as you’d think. The average high schooler usually does homework and studies for most hours of their free time after school, with only weekends reserved for socializing and, you guessed it, more studying. The main contrast between Hollywood high school and the reality is the time students commit to their academic vs. social life. Students wake up before the sun rises and are forced to attend school, running on little sleep and having no motivation. School isn’t easy and carefree.

Having an older sibling who can tell you all about what high school is really like can help a middle schooler adapt to high school changes without being scared or overexcited about something that isn’t as fun as they would think.