How Hollywood changed my high school experience

TV and media can be misleading, but it definitely changed how I viewed school


I literally got a snap chat on the first day of school that said "Yellow Brick Road"
Mainstream media infiltrates real world experiences.

Up until the day that I started high school, my perception of how it would be was influenced by Hollywood. I always thought that you meet a group of people your first day of school and then you are all set for the next four years. Nothing else mattered. Everything else would eventually fall into place by itself.

As far as I could remember, every show I’ve ever watched on Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, or Nickelodeon had a the main character set in either middle school or high school. Since I was in middle school, I already knew that the TV version of middle school was nothing like my actual experience. For starters, I went to catholic middle school. The school was not diverse and there were at most 250 kids in kindergarten through eighth grade. I should have known better than to think that high school in real life is the same as high school on TV or in the movies but there was a small part of me that secretly wished it would be as cool.

School on TV seemed like so much fun yet so bizarre. How did their classes actually work? It seemed like their passing period was about four hours long and each class was only ten minutes. It seemed like they never had any tests and when they did, their teacher would put giant red grade on it and call it day. But thankfully, in real life, I can actually know my exact percentage and what did wrong (most of the time).

Another thing that I thought was real was everyone in the entire school had each other’s number. It was always so convenient for them to spread rumors or accidentally let a secret out because they hit the “send all” button and suddenly, the whole school knew your dirt. Or that your best friend always lives super close to you (granted that is a very real possibility) and you see each other for every waking minute of each other’s lives. But to be honest, that sounds really nice. I would love to be able to hang out with all my friends whenever if we lived two minutes from each other.

As much as I thought Hollywood reflected real world high schools, the connections were never really there. The freshman-sophomore-junior-senior relationships kind of show how it really is, but it’s an external view. It seems like every class hates each other and seniors are the superior class. In a way, it does reflect that here, but what fail to be shown is the relationships between each class internally. Friendships developed between classes shows that we can get along and we’re not trying to jump at each other’s throats every chance we get. We have juniors being close with the seniors, worrying that they lose their friends or how the freshmen have senior mentors that that can develop into a friendship.

Another example: cliques. Through my four years at Jones, I never really saw any cliques like the Plastics from “Mean Girls”. Sure, people here had groups that they normally hang out with, but they weren’t restricted to one group only.

From the movie, "Mean Girls", this depicts the school's cliques.
From the movie, “Mean Girls”, this depicts the school’s cliques.

Our school is also more colorful than the Hollywood depictions; Jones literally has yellow stairs and floors and there are orange walls. I remember getting a Snapchat on the first day of junior year (first time the new building was used) with a picture of the stairs with the caption “Yellow brick road”. As wild as that sounds, it does make our school more unique and special to be in.


I  literally got a snapchat on the first day of school that said 'Yellow brick road'.
I literally got a snapchat on the first day of school that said ‘Yellow brick road’.

No matter how many movies and shows I watch about it, the one that takes the crown on how school would be like is “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. The way he orchestrates his plan to fool his family about being sick at home, the way he tricks his principal to let his girlfriend out of school or how he manages to convince his best friend to drive his father’s Ferrari is simply amazing. It seemed so easy in the movies to do but if I even thought about doing that, I’d probably get into so much trouble, I’d be grounded for the rest of my life. But Ferris manages to pull everything off so effortlessly and flawlessly; the only thing that goes through my head is “HOW?”

Everything in the cinematic world seems so much nicer and more idealistic but I honestly prefer personal experience.

Even now that I’m graduating, Hollywood is continuing to shape my perception of how college would be like. I know I’m not going to go party every night or will I be friends with every single person I see on campus. But one thing that Hollywood does for me that I greatly appreciate is that it gives me a friendlier version of school that make it less scary or tense for when I do start.