American Dream: high school edition


Tori Altamirano

Common stereotypes of American high schools stem from a popular form of the American dream. This stereotype explains that all people in America should receive equal treatment, potentially gaining the ability to rise through the social ladder. Unfortunately, this concept lacks truth. People almost always will eventually face the cruel reality of American high schools: now rather than later.

Tori Altamirano, Reporter

By definition, the American dream exists as the ideal that every citizen of the United States can acquire an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination and initiative. This boils down the theory of the land of red, white and blue to its conceptual essence; with such a business pitch as that one, popularity can stem from people wanting something as amazing as that to believe in. Unfortunately, people continue to twist and bend the American lifestyle to unrealistic standards, while others outside of America continue to fantasize about it. One of the main factors of the American dream stems from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which states that every man or woman can obtain the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

Depending on your identity and background, it could be more difficult to achieve the American dream. As a woman, it might be harder for me to achieve the same American dream as a man. In theory, the American dream is attainable for everyone, but I’m not sure everyone can achieve the same version of the American dream,” New York Times editor Jeremy Engle said.

Conditioned foreigners continue to think that America consists of purely blue skies and rainbows, and the younger generation believes movies including ‘Clueless’ and ‘High School Musical’ represent American life perfectly. However, not everyone obtains equal opportunities, ranging from the luck of appearance, status and wealth.

“When I was entering high school for the first time, I was really surprised to see how it really was. How it is portrayed in shows and movies and social media is pretty much nothing like how it is in real life. Not in all bad ways of course, like there are not any bullies or mean girls but that is just because nobody cares enough. But high school is also not nearly as fun as I thought it would be, I have so much work and stress that ruins the experience,” sophomore Jaimie Arnest said. 

Several people continue to manipulate and change the American dream over time, becoming less realistic. The media heavily influences this, as high school-based movies and shows all include unrealistic fantasies including the stereotypes of cliques, having fun all the time and easy education: all fake. 

Cliques do not exist in America, as society defines them as groups of friends only together because they share common interests and hobbies. Of course, friend groups exist, but personality types and hobbies do not define them. For example, no groups of jocks or nerds exist.

High schools teach students that failing in high school means failing in life, all while teaching subjects that will never come up in the real world. This occurs in American schools just as it does elsewhere. This may act as the reason that mental illnesses continue to rank as the most common health conditions in the United States. Over 50% of Americans will receive diagnoses with mental illness or disorder at a point in their life, and multiple symptoms develop in their teenage years. The three most common exist as anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. These poor mental states often cause poor school performance.

Each person experiences high school differently, but numerous experiences end up unfavorable. Though, for plenty of teenagers, the high school brought great memories into their lives. However, everyone experiences it differently. The American dream misguides a massive group of people when it should not.