Prom Date Pressures

With senior prom approaching rapidly, seniors are scrambling to find dates to this specific dance, whereas dates to all other Jones dances seem to be unnecessary.


Kevin Shannon '16

Lucas Steinbruegge and Nasko Pelinkaj, both ’18, chatting with friends while choosing to attend Homecoming without dates. A common occurrence here, going to Homecoming with friends is encouraged more than bringing a date. This year, prom will be held on May 21, 2016, in the Harold Washington Library.

While trying to manage college and scholarship applications and avoiding senioritis, finding a date for the rapidly approaching senior prom is yet another task that brings stress along with it for the senior class. For most seniors, this is the most anticipated event of the year, second only to graduation. While having a date to any other Jones dance, such as homecoming, seems insignificant, prom dates are weighing heavily on the minds of most of the senior class.

“I did feel pressured to find a date,” said Jelani McGhee-Anderson ‘16, who has already found a prom date. “[It was] mostly because of my family. It wasn’t a just feeling [that I should get a date], it was that I do have to find a date [because of my family].”

Family pressures continue to be a major reason that many seniors feel like they need a date to this specific dance.

“Finding a prom date is stressing me out a little bit,” said Grace Kilpatrick ‘16. “My grandma asks about who I’m taking to prom a lot.”

While picking a prom date may be stressing many seniors out, there are also some seniors who do not find the situation as daunting.

“Bringing a date is not necessary, but I’m happy for anyone that does,” said Adam Kanyock ‘16. “I’m not planning on bringing a date, because I think going to senior prom is a cool experience in itself.”

There are also some assumptions that occur when two people go to senior prom as dates. Occasionally, students automatically assume that being someone’s prom date means that the pair is now a couple, but others do not think this is the case.

“I think being someone’s prom date means you’re comfortable with them.” said Evelyn Rogowski ‘16. “It means you’ll have a fun time with them.”

Looking back to the previous year’s senior prom, which Rogowski attended with her friend Jared Williams ‘15, she remembers that most prom dates were not couples, but just friends.

“There were more friends [that were prom dates] and barely any couples,” said Rogowski. “After pictures, everyone was just together. Prom dates only really matter for slow dances and pictures.”

Interestingly enough, dates to dances at Jones overall are not expected. Students show up with their friends and anticipate a good time without a date, and do not feel pressured to even think of finding a date.

“Senior prom has a bigger long term effect than other dances,” said McGhee-Anderson. “Prom is something you’re going to look back on when you’re older and remember that you had a great time with somebody.”

Many students agree that bringing a date to senior prom is important, but dissenting opinions still remain..

“Maybe people think that in society that’s just the way it is,” said Kanyock. “I think there’s no real reason, just how people think.”

Others also agree that perceptions of prom by outside forces causes them to want to bring a date.

“Prom is a huge thing all over the U.S.,” said Kilpatrick. “There’s even a prom snap story, and prom is just notorious for taking special pictures with your date.”

Seniors also disagree on how important bringing a date to senior prom really is, but going without a date is not considered taboo.

“I think it’s very important,” said Rogowski. “I mean, without a date it’s not the end of the world or even a big deal, but it’s definitely more fun [with a date], and you get to have the whole prom experience.”

Even choosing to attend prom without a date seems to be a viable and accepted option.

“It would be nice to have a prom date, but it’s just a day,” said Kilpatrick. “I’m not going to lose myself trying to find a date.”

Even already having a prom date does not alleviate all of the stresses of prom. After securing a date, there are still other things that need to be clarified.

“There’s a lot of expectations. From school, people think you’re automatically a thing,” said McGhee-Anderson. “You also have to worry about who’s paying.”

Perceptions from other students is a small factor that goes into choosing a prom date, but it is pretty widely accepted that a prom date does not have to mean that the pair is a couple.

“I feel confident in going with a friend,” said Rogowski. “You don’t need to feel emotionally connected with someone.”

The pressure of finding a date to senior prom is without question on the seniors’ minds, but it has not seemed to stress out the underclassmen looking towards the future just yet.

“I hope I will be bringing a date to my senior prom, but I’m not stressing out about it,” said Abby Barton ‘18. “I would also like to go with a big group of friends.”

Other underclassmen, like Nick Rappe ‘18, also believe and agree with other seniors that senior prom weighs more heavily than all the other dances at Jones.

“Well, I think that proms in general are just more well known. At college you might not say, ‘Oh this is a picture of me and my girlfriend at the spring dance, or something.’ You’ll be like, ‘Oh this is us at the photo booth at senior prom,’”said Rappe. “It’s a big farewell to the end of high school, and it’s a chance for everyone to have a good time.”

Overall, taking a date for prom is a stressor for some seniors currently, but it is not an all-consuming stress. Attending prom with a date that is your significant other, friend, or not even bringing a date are all options that any senior can choose.

“You can be ‘Riding Solo’ like Jason Derulo instead,” said Kilpatrick. “and that’s pretty fun too.”