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.
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?