5 lessons from high school movies

5 lessons from high school movies

Even Lindsay Lohan’s character knows, “Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter.”

High school is back in session, and everyone headed to the classroom — from the incoming freshmen to the returning seniors — has questions about the new year. What table should I sit at in the lunchroom? Who am I going to ask to the prom? Will anything I’m studying ever be really useful after I graduate?

Thankfully, there is something that can help you find all the answers you’re looking for: high school movies. The characters in these flicks suffer heartbreak, alienation, and uncertainty about their future so you don’t have to.

Here are some words of wisdom from a handful of the best high school movies, along with the lessons you can learn from each one.

The Breakfast Club (1985)
“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” – Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez)

High school tends to force people to fit into a mold. Some kids are branded “cool,” most are not. But underneath the labels, everyone has their own quirks. And it took being trapped together in Saturday detention for the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal of “The Breakfast Club” to see how much they had in common.

Heathers (1989)
“If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn’t be a human being. You’d be a game-show host.” – Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder)

People always say, “High school is the greatest time of your life.” But everyone who’s actually in it knows better. There is the constant pressure to succeed, to fit in, and to think about the future. So it’s okay if you don’t feel like high school is so great. But you definitely shouldn’t follow any other examples from the murderous characters in this movie.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
“Just because you’re beautiful doesn’t mean you can treat people like they don’t matter.” – Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

Popularity determines the pecking order of high school, naturally. And attractiveness plays its part in deciding who sits on top of the totem pole. But being the center of attention doesn’t give you the right to disrespect others. You never know what sort of person any of your classmates will grow up to be, or where you might run into them again after graduation.

Mean Girls (2004)
“Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter… All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.” – Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan)

Name-calling. Whispered gossip. Betrayed trust. They’re all standard features of high school discussions. But what does it really get you? Gaining one friend by turning on another usually insures you end up with none at all. There’s enough naturally occurring drama in high school interactions; it’s best not to manufacture more.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
“Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick)

Yes, high school is important. Grades, SAT scores, and extracurricular activities all factor in to college applications and setting the course for your life. But it’s not so important that you shouldn’t allow yourself to have some fun now and again. That’s not to say that skipping school is a good idea (especially not nine times in a semester), just keep things in perspective and every so often watch a movie.

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