Expectations VS Reality: Is High School Really Like the Movies?

high school movies vs reality

Ioanna Tsompanellis

Many students, typically older siblings, have romanticized outlooks on high school, the so called “best years of your life”. This article discusses the realizations made between films and actuality.

Hannah Elbogen, Staff Editor

High School Musical, Mean Girls, and All American are three popular, well-known productions, which are all set in a high school. 

However, how accurate are they? 

I myself, as a senior, can confidently say that thus far in my high school experience – besides pep rallies – there have been no breakouts into song, no flash mobs, and football is definitely not the only high school sport. 

It’s safe to say that for me, these films set unrealistic high school expectations.

Looking back, my predictions freshman year were due to the fact that I didn’t have an older sibling to guide me, and explain to me what I was walking into. 

My main high school resources were my neighbors who, at the time, were both students at Pascack Valley. Each year I would hope for good news as they would give me a rundown on my teachers and classes. Lucky for me, I received positive feedback.

Despite their reassurance, I can recall being so nervous for my first day of high school. I spent about an hour trying to figure out the perfect outfit to wear. I ended up with a gray t-shirt and ripped denim shorts with white flowery-lace pockets. 

One thing I should have realized is that in the movies, everyone already seems to know each other, and has the building all figured out. Whereas for me, during freshman orientation, I made numerous wrong turns and it took me some time to distinguish my classmates from each other.

I quickly realized that high school shared little resemblance to the movies in the ways that I had hoped. Despite that, I have no doubt that the movies wouldn’t be as entertaining if they were realistic. 

high school movies vs reality inforgraphic

Evan Starr, a freshman at PV, has the resource I never did. His older sister, Sophie Starr, has helped guide his way.

“I definitely thought high school was going to be like how it was on [The] Disney channel,” Sophie said. “I thought everyone was going to go to their lockers, you [could] hang out with your friends, [something along those lines], but [in reality, it’s] nothing like that at all. I think I went in expecting this [dream-like] Disney channel high school [experience], and it’s just not like that whatsoever.”

Unlike Sophie and I, Evan did not watch a lot of productions based around high school environments, however, since he had Sophie to serve as his “role model,” he had more realistic expectations and was not nervous (besides math class).

“[Having Sophie as an older sister] made me less nervous because I knew that I would have someone, an upperclassman as my sister, [who] would protect me,” Evan said. “If I have questions she could answer [them]. The other day she organized all of my folders for me and she helped me a lot.”

Other than movies and shows, Sophie and I both had advice from upperclassmen, but that can not compare to the older-younger sibling relationship.

“Eighth grade going into freshman year, there were upperclassmen telling me stuff, [so] I got a little bit of a glimpse of what it was going to be like from them,” Sophie said. “So I went in knowing what it was going to be like, but I guess throughout middle school my expectations were bigger.”

Sophie’s advice to the class of 2025, to older siblings who relied on movies and shows, to the students who did not have older siblings to aid them in their high school experience, “…get involved as much as you can because if you don’t, your experience won’t be as good. Getting involved helps you [make the most of your] high school experience, whether it’s music, or sports, or clubs, or whatever, just doing something and branching out past your friend group really helps.”

High school may not have been like the movies, but it has definitely been a great experience and a time of my life where I have learned a lot inside, and outside, of the classroom.