Hot Take: High School Actually Mattered

For everyone that grows up and says “high school doesn’t matter", I have news for you.

It did.

What particularly grinds my gears is adults telling students, who are in - or about to be in - high school that it doesn't matter. What part of telling an adolescent that their reality is irrelevant seems beneficial to their academic, social, and psychological development?

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I am 20 years old, I am a sophomore in college, and I want to drop kick anyone who claims high school “doesn’t matter". It would be irresponsible for me to ignore such a pivotal period of my life.

Consider the phases and changes most people experience between ages 14 and 18 and tell me it doesn’t matter. Consider the knowledge gained, social and academic, between ages 14 and 18. Consider the relationships that are formed between ages 14 and 18. I’m begging you to tell me to my face that your formative character development in your teenage years has in no way affected you to this day.

High school is hard. It is emotionally draining, mentally turbulent, and socially confusing. It also has so much potential to be gratifying and a perfect blank slate for developing skills to use later in life. Without my extracurriculars and classes in high school, I wouldn’t have the confidence, communication skills, critical thinking capabilities, or inclination to be inquisitive that I have now.

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Even if high school was hard for you and you’re glad to be rid of it, those experiences still have affected your worldview. To pretend high school never happened is to ignore 4 years of progress, reality, relationships, and academic growth. The desire to cut the cord from high school is one of the more prominent reasons that high school affected you - and that deserves recognition so you can move further toward healing.

Furthermore, so many people have such incredibly positive memories from high school, and those are critical. Just because it was high school doesn’t mean it wasn’t an entirely valid experience. Embrace that positivity and use it to propel you forward. There is no shame in maintaining friendships, hobbies, skills, and relationships with teachers after high school. I return to my high school to watch their bands play and judge speech tournaments because those activities were important and I remember them fondly. I would love nothing more than to foster that appreciation in current students.

The phenomenon of "closing the yearbook" is a popular one. There is a stigma associated with maintaining a positive attitude toward high school post-graduation, but why? Don't allow yourself to be shamed into closing the yearbook on incredible memories and relationships if you have them. Embrace them.

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Maybe you went through your first heartbreak in high school. Maybe you failed your first test. Maybe you were an athlete and got hurt. Maybe you’re a musician who broke their reed before an audition.

Maybe you won a state tournament. Maybe you were the President of Student Council. Maybe you dedicated hours upon hours of volunteer service to the National Honor Society. Maybe you were a section leader in your marching band.

High school was crucial to your development, and it has done enough for you to earn recognition and validation for its role during your adolescence.