Top Ten Parts of High School I Wish YA Authors Talked About More

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is a Back to School Freebie.

I’m a senior in high school, and my high school career has been very academic-focused. I can’t speak for everyone, and I don’t want to act like my HS experience is everyone’s HS experience. That being said, here are some things that I wish I saw more of in YA literature. 

1. Homework. No seriously, homework.

I don’t care if your character is the biggest slacker in the world or the valedictorian, they have homework. Maybe they cheat on their homework, or do it during class, or only turn in every third assignment. Still. If your character goes to high school, I’d really like to have homework mentioned.

2. Club meetings during school. Or club meetings at all.

This might just be my school, but for me, most of the clubs on campus meet during lunch. That means that sometimes I can’t eat lunch with my friends, either because they’re in a meeting or I am.

3. Extracurricular activities that aren’t sports.

I think YA authors are pretty good at having athletic characters. But even if a character isn’t athletic, they probably have something to do after school.

4. STRESS.

Oh my god this needs to be talked about more. Do you know how frustrating it is to read about characters that are supposedly smart (or even just kind of care about grades) that don’t stress about school? Ever?!?!? Tests are stressful. Projects are stressful. Not knowing how to do math homework is stressful. School is stressful, and not just for people trying to get a 4.0.

5. College stress.

I want to see freshman planning what classes they will take in the next four years to be in a good place for college. I want to see sophomores freaking out because they haven’t done enough community service or didn’t get a leadership position in a club. I want to see juniors ready to stab the next person that asks them which colleges they want to apply to. I want to see seniors frustrated that they have to defend their college choices from the relentless judgement of others.

I wish those things didn’t exist, but they do, so start writing about them.

6. Bad teachers.

While inspiring, there-when-you-need-a-word-of-advice teachers are common in YA, bad teachers aren’t talked about enough. They can destroy a school year. They can make you not want to go to class or care about your grade.

7. Battles for something other than valedictorian.

I have started seeing a lot of books centered around people battling for being top of the class. First of all, a lot of schools don’t do ranking anymore (my school doesn’t), and second of all, academics are competitive even on a lower level. College apps pit you against millions of other high school students, and that puts an inherently competitive edge into a lot of aspects of high school.

8. An understanding of AP classes, the SAT/ACT, SAT subject tests, etc.

So often, I’ll be reading a book and a character will go to “AP History.” It seems like a minor thing, but it jars me out of the story. There are at least three different classes that could be called “AP History,” and when the author doesn’t pick one, it gives me the impression that they haven’t talked to HS student in years.

There’s also a financial side of standardized tests that should be looked at. If your character is poor, talk about how expensive these tests are, how complicated getting fee waivers can be, and how frustrating it is to be competing with people who can buy prep books and classes without blinking an eye.

9. Dress codes.

Not every book needs to talk about this, but some should. There is a giant push back against dress codes right now, pointing out how sexist and outdated they are. I would love to see this discussed in a YA book.

10. Sleep deprivation.

I can’t tell you how often I hear people say that they got 2-3 hours of sleep the night before, or that getting 5 hours is a lot for them. Sleep deprivation has serious side effects that I see all around me every day, and I wish more authors would talk about it.


What do you think? Fellow high school students, does this sound familiar? What parts of high school do you feel authors miss?

31 thoughts on “Top Ten Parts of High School I Wish YA Authors Talked About More

  1. Definitely – it’s amazing how most of these topics are swerved when reading fiction! The homework one is a really good example – even when you have a character that is a first class student they seem to have to spend very little (if any) time doing homework and assignments.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! People do homework everywhere…except YA books.
      It’s a shame that authors don’t share their HS experiences (with clubs and things) more in their stories, because if they did, it would expose us to different styles of schools. At my school, clubs literally never meet after school, but it’s interesting that something that is rare for me was common for you.

      Like

    1. Aww thanks 🙂
      The dress code thing is so important. We are seeing such a big push in YA to address social issues–I want someone to talk about dress codes! It’s not like it wouldn’t fit in to the stories people are already creating.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great post. I will admit to having no understanding of AP classes. They weren’t a thing in my school so there is a giant gap in my understanding of it. It is making me think about other parts of life that I wish authors talked about more. Really good post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m glad my post got you thinking 🙂
      It is fascinating and strange to hear about other people’s experiences in school. My school is dominated by AP classes–there are literally people taking 6 at once–so it’s hard to imagine what life would be like without them.

      Like

      1. I am an old, so I imagine even my school offers a few of them these days. When I was in school if you wanted to get any advanced or college credits you had to pack up and actually go to college while in high school. It was a very different kind of thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my goodness, you’re right! YA characters never have homework! But then, I have rarely read a YA story in which the school aspect was realistic. They just seem to go wherever they want and do whatever they want and it’s all good and they still graduate lol. But yeah, having all sort of different school activities would be a great thing. I did recently read the second book in a series in which the characters were in theatre, so that was fun, especially since I could relate a little bit 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Schools are never realistic in YA fiction (or at least very rarely) and it is incredibly frustrating. The stories are aimed at teenagers, and then promptly ignore one of the most major parts of their lives.
      That story sounds fun! I love reading stories about people in other extracirriculars–I get to experience things I never would actually do in HS.

      Like

  4. This is a great list.

    Our club meetings were after school, which meant you had to ride the Elementary School bus home if you didn’t own a car. That would make an interesting aspect to a book. / I never played a sport but did do Knowledge Bowl etc. so I would have loved this. / I never really recovered from the terrible Alegbra teacher I had as a freshman. / And #8 really applied to me. Several of my friends got to participate in a program where they graduated from high school with an Associates degree, but I could afford it. / And my mom always complained about me coming straight home from school and falling asleep rather than helping her with the younger kids.

    There is a really cute book called Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar that you might enjoy

    Care to Matriculate?: Ten Top Schools of Science & Magic

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your club meeting schedule is interesting. It would definitely add a new angle to a story.
      I’m sorry that teacher is still haunting you! I definitely know the feeling though.
      Everything is soooo expensive these days. I’m applying to college right now, and with apps, score reports, and transcript requests, everything adds up! It sucks that you had to miss out on an opportunity because of cost 😦
      Yes! Sleep is such a constant factor in HS students’ lives…and then we get bashed for it. It’s crazy…
      I’ll check out the book! Thanks for the rec 🙂

      Like

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