No one has had an “easy” high school experience, probably in the history of all people ever, but most notably for young women. As a previously-young woman, I can attest to the massive amounts of bullshittery that amasses in a girl’s adolescent years. I faced lots of personal image problems, academic inadequacies, social retardation, and many other common dilemmas that still face teenagers today. The plot twist? I attended an all-girls, private high school. It was a good fit for me, but only because it was hell on earth, and I knew I got to leave someday.
The only “community” experience I gained from high school was my experience in the community outside my school. I lived in the suburbs, but my school was in the city; and centrally located near two big college campuses. This lucky scenario landed me opportunities to get involved with museums, libraries, and cool local musicians. Actually, the community within the walls of the school was so unpleasant, it actually made me explore my other options more so than if I had been more comfortable at school. I didn’t take AP courses. I didn’t play soccer. I didn’t go to more than one Spanish club meeting. All the communities I tried to fit in with figured me out pretty quickly. I was so. Weird.
I actually never realized this until just now, but my school never really did any community service. My youth group did, but it was based out of my hometown and had zero affiliation with my school. I think there was a club for service projects, but that generally meant going to the old folks’ home next door and having a “prom” for them, which generally freaked me out anyway. Most of the students’ volunteering efforts were put towards raising more money for the school. During my time there, they built a new cafeteria, a new gym, and started work on a new chapel. The cafeteria went from costing $3.00/day to “a la carte”, which meant you had to pay for everything on your tray individually. A full meal ended up costing about $7. I lived off of soft pretzels.
And I have seen that new chapel, and it is ugly as hell.
Freshman year, 2001, I was automatically enrolled into “Honors” English based on my entrance exam scores. After freshman year, I achieved lower than an A-, so I was bumped down to “Regular” English. After sophomore year, I was deemed “too smart” for “Regular” English, so I went back to “Honors” my junior year. And then – surprise! – I was back in “Regular” English for my senior year. This web of contradiction says very little about my academic prowess, and much more about the school’s standards for what “honorable” means. From what I can discern, it means more way more pointless work and more strict scoring. It has no bearing on comprehension, aptitude, or skill. The “Regular” classes were all cake-walks. The “Honors” classes held unrealistic standards. In neither situation did I feel like I was surrounded by like-minded individuals.
Lots of girls wore makeup in high school. It didn’t matter that we spent 80% of the day away from boys. If I didn’t wear makeup, the cool girls would be able to see my acne, and then they would torment me more than regularly. Even the uncool girls wore makeup. It was one of the only ways to express yourself outside of changing your hairstyle (within reasonable confines). It wasn’t until I graduated that I stopped wearing makeup, because once I was in the real world, I realized that nobody caked that shit on more than catholic schoolgirls.
In retrospect, uniforms made it really difficult to adapt to normal job attire later in life. I had to teach myself how to coordinate clothes together. I WISH the real world had a uniform. The only real thing uniforms in high school taught me was how to dress like a complete bum when not in school.
I was only trying to be different! In a private, single-gender school, being different is the last thing you wanna do. I wasn’t trying to cause problems. I wasn’t trying to stand out. I was just trying to figure out how to be myself! And yes, my high school environment did help with this; by making me realize that the only people who understood me were my very close friends.
Lack of the Male Species
We didn’t even get a real health class to teach us about sex. Our health class talked about goiters and used calipers to measure our BMIs. Boys were not extra-excited to us. Creepy, much-older, much dirtier boys were excited. The guys from our “sister” school were just as mentally fucked as the girls in our school. And shouldn’t all-female institutions be trying to disassociate themselves from things like “needing a male prom date”? Getting a date to the dance wasn’t easier because “the girl is the one asking”. In fact, it was much harder.
But don’t worry, guys! I made it out!
Man, that was a great day.
This is an article written in response to the “Thought Catalog” post, titled “Why Sending Your Daughter To A Private All-Girls High School Is One Of The Best Things You Can Do For Her”, written by Laura Lapham.