Decoding High School Stereotypes—the Good, the Bad, and the Atrocious

Tired of high school stereotypes? We lived through them and no doubt our own kids would, one way or the other. The cliques: the chics, the cool kids, and the ones who always read; the athletes, the weirdos, and the cheerleaders who scream “Go! Go! Go!”. All of these people are in one high school building—grouped according to their similarities and judged according to their group. As these students gradually build their identity, society has set their perception of these teens primarily based on who they sit with at lunchtime or what they do on Friday nights.

The Good

Students who are probably living by the line, “We’re all in this together…”

high school stereotype

Who are they?

These high school streotypes are the nerds, artists, overachievers, and floaters. Average students can be a part of the list too. Most of these high schoolers are so good at what they do that they are their teachers’ and parents’ favorite. People perceive them as the only ones who have the brains, heart, or talent. On top of that, society expects them to have definite goals in life, excellent time management skills, active participation both inside and outside the classroom, and are set to clinch success in the future. Can you imagine the pressure they feel?

Nerds: The media has represented high school nerds as people who have no sense of fashion who lacks social skills. They are the ones you see in the libraries, reading books and donning loose clothes. Afraid to disappoint their parents, they ace their exams and get straight As. They tend to know everything about grammar, calculations, and science.

Artists: Remember those kids in your class who always have a sketchbook with them? They are the type of students whom teachers will run to whenever there is an art exhibit. They know how to do painting and drawing. Sometimes, their classmates pay them to do arts and crafts that are simple but creative.

Overachievers: These students don’t just excel academically. They also do good in extracurricular activities and do some volunteer work in school. Of all the “good” high school students, they are most likely to be the teacher’s pet because they participate in almost everything.

Floaters: Unlike most students who have their groups, floaters just get along with almost everyone. They don’t belong to a particular clique. As a result, they may be friends or acquaintances with hundreds of people on campus.

Average Students: Of course, they’re good. They don’t bother anyone; they just exist. These students don’t specifically excel at anything, but they get good grades, wear normal clothes, participate in high school clubs, and are nice to people.

The Bad

To quote Gretchen Wieners from Mean Girls, “You can’t sit with us.”

mean girls

Who are they?

Let’s see. These are the jocks, queens, emos or goths, and loners of the group. These students have built their own world wherein only a few can break into. They may have different personalities, but one thing is for sure, you really can’t sit with them. Moreover, everyone on the campus has their eyes on these “bad” students because they are either extremely popular or freakishly odd. Unlike the good ones, people think that those who belong in this group don’t care much about acing their exams or being at the top of their class. They are also the most stereotyped high school students because of how the media portrays them.

Jocks: These students like sports so much that their life pretty much revolved around it. They proudly wear their varsity jacket like it was some kind of a medallion. For this reason, people often see them as dumb ones who don’t care about their academic performance. As the modern media sees it, they are these high school cool kids who think all the girls in the building like them.

Queens: Driven by their popularity, these girls think that no one is better than them. Moreover, they are on the top tier of the high school cliques list because of their attention-grabbing looks and impeccable styling. They usually have a loyal sidekick who agrees with everything they say.

queen bee

Emos or Goths: To them, darkness is beauty. In their world, it seems like the colors of the rainbow ceased to exist. They wear black clothes, put on black lipstick, draw thick eyeliners, and use black nail polish. Even their social media posts are dark, which makes other students stay away from them. Everyone judges this group of people, but only a few really know them.

Loners: Both floaters and loners don’t belong to a particular clique, but for different reasons. While floaters can’t find the perfect group for them because they get along with anyone, loners are the type of students who don’t have any friends at all. Some of them may feel ostracized, but others don’t care that much. They do all things alone, from eating their lunch to doing their school-related tasks. Like emos or goths, most students stay away from them because they feel like the loners’ quietness is suspicious and dangerous.

The Atrocious

They think people are so afraid of them that their favorite movie quote would be, “Scared, Potter?”

school bully

Who are they?

They are the troublemakers, potheads, mean girls, and the rebels in high school. Determined to cause trouble, these people have little to no regard for the student’s code of conduct. They are perceived to be the breaker of rules and the breaker of bones. Moreover, they are the ones who are most likely to disregard the consequences of their misbehavior. Although people only see the surface of their actions, they directly assume that these students will drop out of school and go astray. Can they debunk these notions? What do you think?

Troublemakers: When you see them in the principal’s office, you know that they have caused harm to a fellow student, a teacher, or the school itself. They are out there in the high school building, waiting to wreak havoc. They bully their classmates and pull pranks on them, which sometimes leaves these poor high schoolers crying. Additionally, troublemakers usually fail their classes. That is why some people are so sure that they won’t see any success in the future.

Potheads: Although they see themselves as the cool kids, they are the kind of people your parents told you to stay away from. They smoke weed, use illegal drugs, and drink alcohol during fraternity parties. Statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that 35.7% of 12th graders have used marijuana. That said, you must prevent your child from being one of the numbers and educate them about the negative effects of illegal drugs.

Mean Girls: Sometimes, the queen and the mean girl are one person. These girls don’t care about other people’s feelings. That’s why it’s easy for them to ruin someone else’s life. While the troublemakers resort to pranks and bullying, mean girls make hurtful comments, gossip, and spread rumors to manipulate and intimidate other women. No matter how trash their personalities are, they want everyone to look up to them and follow their orders.

partying teenager

Rebels: Rules? What are those? These students don’t care about the laws implemented in their institution. They jump out of a window or ring the fire alarms, and they even have the strength to be proud of it. They either sleep during class hours or irritates other students that may disrupt the lesson. These students wouldn’t even try to hide their zero interest in learning!

How Can I Help My Children Combat These Stereotypes?

Being in high school is one of the most challenging times for a teenager. Along with their struggles in academics and extra-curricular activities, they have to face the prejudgement of the people. As a line in the movie Little Miss Sunshine says, “High school, those are your prime suffering years. You don’t get better suffering than that.” During these years, your child may care too much about what other people say, think a lot about every social interaction they have, or focus excessively on their image.

Sure, one can say to just ignore the negativity altogether. But it’s easier said than done. Remember that how children take these words is different from how adults handle them. High school stereotypes affect your teenagers more than you thought it would. It may lead to unjust treatment by the teachers, bullying, stress, anxiety, and isolation. It may also result in identity confusion as these students lose a part of themselves while trying to conform to the standards of society. Furthermore, this can also affect their academic performance and the quality of education they receive. In fact, a study featured on the American Psychological Association’s website showed that race and gender stereotypes affect a student’s test scores. According to the study, negative stereotypes are one of the factors that develop doubts and anxieties among students. Thus, they will feel inferior, which will then lessen their chances of attaining academic achievements.

Don’t let these things happen to your child. Help them face and combat stereotypes by doing the following:

Encourage Them to Try New Things

high school clique

High school students, especially the popular ones, are tied to the things they are known for. That is why those pretty cheerleaders and handsome sports captains will stick with their team until they graduate. The underlying reason? People expect them to do so. Some high school students are afraid that when they change their interests and join a different club, they will eventually lose their friends that they treasure the most. Also, dealing with a new group may be hard on their part. But what if your child is not happy with playing football anymore? Or reciting lines for a school play isn’t that exciting anymore? Perhaps, your teenage girl wants to join Math Club.

That is when your role as a parent comes. Ask your teenager what they want. Then, build up their confidence and tell them that it’s okay to try new things even if it’s the complete opposite of what they do for quite some time. This way, your child will be brave enough to let go of something that does not spark their interest anymore. Moreover, this is also a way for them to discover what they’re good at and what they love to do.

Support Their Interests

In relation to the things mentioned above, your support as a parent helps them handle stereotypes. When the connection with their friends becomes blurry, they need you to be there for them. You have to support their decisions and discuss their interests. Remind them that studious people can play sports too, sporty ones can love reciting lines of a play too, or girls can be good at Math too. Don’t allow your child to limit themselves from the stereotypes.

Note that your support and understanding always help them feel better about their choices in life. Other than that, doing so also allows you to strengthen your relationship with your child. Hence, they will not hesitate to tell you about the problems they face in school in the future.

Reminding Them That High School Stereotypes Are Temporary

common high school girl

It’s called high school stereotypes because it only lasts until high school. After that, students will part ways and live separate lives. As they graduate, they will leave behind all those judgments thrown at them during their high school years and go to college with a fresh start. So it is essential to remind your child that all of these are temporary, and being fixated on it won’t do them any good. The important thing is that they will learn how to rise above these stereotypes and be the best they can be.

The existence of stereotypes is prevalent during your child’s high school years. As they seek independence from their parents and try to discover themselves, they yearn for belongingness from their friends. Generally, they go with people who share the same interests as them. However, the presence of high school labels and stereotypes have become the basis of identity among these students. Society tends to define the entirety of a high schooler based on the single trait they possess and the friends they have. Therefore, it is your duty to remind your child not to let the perception of the people define them. Because apart from you, they are the ones who know and understand themselves the most.

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