ART BY ESTELLE ZHOU
By SARAH CHUN
I am sure we have all heard that high school will be the best four years of our life.
Older generations push younger generations to “put themselves out there” and take every given opportunity to make the most out of their high school days. Adults and movies alike dramatize the overall high school experience, and as a result, teens suffer due to the unrealistic expectation for the four-year journey.
Upon entering high school, many students do not know what to expect in the academic aspect. Since many adults rave about high school being the best four years of their life, incoming high schoolers start to focus upon social aspects, rather than prioritizing academics. For example, students become overly invested in thinking about their friendships, relationships and who they should ask to prom, at the expense of their studying time.
The unrealistic expectation of high school also stems from high school’s hyperbolic portrayal in movies, as they are very impactful, popular, and effective at communicating messages amongst younger generations In films such as the High School Musical series, high school is made out to be all about fun, creating a false image. This does not necessarily mean to intimidate students of high school, as Mean Girls does, illustrating it as full of cliques, drama and bullying. This interpretation implies having a “don’t care” attitude is acceptable, or that they will become victims of bullying. The inaccurate depiction has led to misunderstanding from viewers with a distorted idea of high school.
Because the high school course load is far more than that of middle school, students should be taught to never underestimate high school rigor. Especially because high school performance determines one’s future, students should enter high school realizing that this will also be one of the most decisive four years of their life.
Some may argue that pushing teens to venture outside of their comfort zone is good. Expanding one’s horizons make one find their own identity and learn about their passions. This is true, but to a certain extent, as one has his or her limits.
Personally, I believe that I am a victim of an excessive push to make the most out of high school. During freshman year, I believed that joining many clubs and organizations was my solution to regretting or missing out on anything during my four years. What no one seemed to warn me about, or what I failed to realize, was that I might have been pushing myself too hard. As a result, later on, I sometimes found myself neglecting my studies because I was focused on my responsibilities in organizations.
Overall, the unrealistic portrayal of the high school experience in addition to an excessive pressure to participate in activities is detrimental. Instead, the film industry and adults should try to find an even balance between showing both the good and bad aspects to provide a realistic model of high school. If high school is indeed the best four years of one’s life, teens should be able to find out for themselves, and not because others told them so.