Editorial: The DIY high school experience


Ayane Kobayashi

There are many events in high school that many consider as important to attend to “complete” the high school experience, but students may feel pressured to attend these events. The Sidekick editorial board thinks students should be able to do what makes them happy to have fun in high school instead of succumbing to peer pressure.

Editorial Board

Four years of high school culminate at the end of a student’s senior year. It is a time to celebrate the end of an era and usher in a new chapter.

However, this coming-of-age experience is often determined by cookie-cutter expectations set by societal norms. High school students face pressure from friends and family to attend prom and football games, have a graduation party and a senior photoshoot, and spend hundreds of dollars on senior overalls.

Especially in high school, peer pressure and a fear of missing out (FOMO) play a substantial role in determining what high school students engage with.

The fact is, the events that make up the stereotypical high school experience are not everyone’s idea of fun, and students should not be discredited or feel ashamed for not participating in them. High school should be a tailored experience, not a one-size-fits-all. No one needs to go to events they feel uncomfortable at in order to feel their time in high school is complete when they graduate. 

Without Instagram posts in patchwork overalls, white dresses for graduation and prom clothes announcing a person’s participation in senior traditions, students may be made to feel like they are not having the proper high school experience. But to have the “ideal” experience, students are expected to spend hundreds of dollars on activities they may not enjoy.

The costs place an unfair burden on students, who should be able to have an individualized, inexpensive prom experience. A cheaper prom dress and graduation party don’t take away from your high school experience, regardless of what others say. This pressure is often unintentional, but it is inevitable with the characterization of high school as a unique window of opportunity that needs to happen a certain way, where boxes need to be checked off on a list for the experience to be fulfilling. 

Many high schoolers believe they should attend these typical experiences because of the common refrain “it’s a senior thing” and “it’s a high school thing.”

An event is not worth attending because of the air of exclusivity surrounding it. Just because events have the word senior in front of it – senior sunrise, senior pinning ceremony, senior overalls – does not mean you have to go to them if you’re a senior. Oftentimes, students trade their enjoyment to do something because everyone else is doing it.

Even worse, making this trade-off can taint one’s memories negatively, as it’s difficult to look back on high school fondly if the activities you participated in weren’t choices you made entirely yourself.

While this time and energy may not seem like a large trade-off in exchange for a seemingly whole high school experience, it’s worth questioning. Why should a student be expected to partake in something that isn’t their idea of fun when their participation doesn’t specifically benefit anyone including themselves?

While no one should be pressured to attend, students should also feel pride and enjoy themselves at events they take part in for fun. Go to prom because you love dressing up and dancing the night away. Make overalls because you’re a creative person or you like showcasing school spirit. Above all, do it because it’s your choice.

As seniors graduate and reflect on their time in high school, they may feel regret or nostalgia at their experiences. FOMO and peer pressure shouldn’t be the primary factors shaping your schedule, and no high school experience needs to look the same in order to be valid and complete. For graduating seniors, these past four years did not have to be the best time of your life, so do not look back with regret if you opted out on occasion.

At the end of our time at CHS, we graduate with our own memories, not anyone else’s. So do what makes you happy, whether that involves homecoming, prom or sleeping early on a Saturday night. 

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