Peaked in high school
"Peaked in high school" is a phrase used to describe someone whose happiest or most successful years were high school. In some countries, there is a stigma against saying your happiest years were in high school, because many people will assume that means you were one of the popular students and believe it means you will inevitably become a homeless person living in poverty.
Many people say it is best to peak in your 30s or your 40s. Although there is little to no stigma against calling college or elementary school the best years of your life, people make an exception for high school. A lot of people believe the popular students in high school become homeless people or losers who work miserable dead end jobs or at a gas station. They believe that popular students will become fat and experience hair loss and have yellow teeth. These same people also say that bullied students and outcasts will become successful or rich and have successful adults. This is all a myth.
Life does not get better for losers[edit | edit source]
Although people often say that outcasts and bullying victims become successful and rich and have the jocks work for them, this is actually a myth. It remains very difficult for outcasts in life. Although many school bullying victims don't get bullied later in life, they are more likely than others to be bullied in the workplace. Additionally, research shows that college bullying victims often were bullied before college. Many people perpetuate this myth that bullying ends after high school, but it actually occurs throughout life. Childhood/adolescence bullying victims also are more likely to end up in poverty and are more likely to experience mental health problems and depression throughout adulthood. A study has even shown that bullying does more harm and damage than child abuse! Although many bullying victims and outcasts can have a decent adulthood at the least, they are more likely to experience poverty, mental issues/depression and college bullying/workplace bullying. Studies about childhood predictors of involuntary celibacy have shown that involuntary adult virgins were more likely to have been bullied and rejected by their peers during childhood and were more likely to be socially withdrawn. On polls from incel forum incels.co, the vast majority of users reported being bullied at some point in life, whether it was childhood, adolescence or adulthood. Multiple studies have confirmed how missing out on relationships and dating as a teenager damages the possibility of romantic and sexual success later on in life and how many people refuse to date adult virgins (Women are significantly less likely to be willing to date a virgin than men).
Life is good for popular kids[edit | edit source]
A 2014 study by Joseph P. Allen called "What Ever Happened to the “Cool” Kids? Long‐Term Sequelae of Early Adolescent Pseudomature Behavior" examined 184 middle school students to see what they'd become a decade later. It found that they were more likely to do risky behaviors such as drugs or get in trouble with law and lose social status as young adults at age 22-23. Nonetheless, the sample had a relatively small sample size of 184 middle schoolers at one specific public middle school in a specific state in the United States, causing a potential sampling bias. Also, the popular middle school students all lost their popularity in high school at age 15, and it only reveals what they became at age 22-23 and it's unknown who they will become at age 30 or even 40. Therefore, this study has many severe limitations.
Other studies show that those who are popularity through likability by making many friends and being friendly to other students do well in life while those who are popular by power (i.e.: similar to the Plastics in Mean Girls) are more likely to fare poorly later on in life. Nonetheless, this is a bit ambiguous, because popular students who are friendly towards others but just happen to go to parties a lot or have lots of friends can fit the likability description. Even if one study might reveal that popular students are more likely to fare poorly, more likely doesn't always mean a majority of all popular students. This doesn't get rid of the chance of there being many popular students who do well later on in life.
Studies instead can show completely different findings when examining the popular students from a different perspective. For example, many popular guys are athletes and many popular girls are cheerleaders. As a result, one can determine what happens later on to popular students by studying the success of high school athletes and cheerleaders rather than merely popular students per se. Studies show that high school athletes get much better grades and are more likely to graduate and less likely to drop out and have higher GPAs. Studies also show the more sports you play, the higher your GPA is and the less amount of days you are absent. Studies also show that cheerleaders have higher GPAs, better grades, volunteer more and participate in more activities and organizations. I've also read that the cool kids in college (ie: Greek life students) tend to get better grades and have successful job careers later in life (the only downside they have is being more likely to have alcohol problems).
In a March 2005 Gallup poll, Gallup determined what happens to the popular high schoolers later on. One of the questions they asked in a sample of 1,000 respondents is: "Just your opinion, did the popular kids in high school end up being more successful or less successful than those who were not as popular in high school?"
- 37% said the popular kids ended up less successful
- 24% said popular kids ended up just as successful
- 25% said popular kids ended up being more successful (24+25=49% saying either the popular kids became just as successful or more successful.)
- 14% said they don't know.
- When removing the 14% who said "don't know", this brings it down to 860 respondents who gave an actual answer. Among the 860, 29.07% said the popular kids became more successful and 27.91% said the popular kids became just as successful. This means 56.98% (or 57%) said the popular kids became just as successful or more successful while 43.02% (or 43%) said the popular kids became less successful.
This poll shows that while some popular high schoolers might have less success later in life, many don't end up that way at all later in life. There are even times where they become more successful than other students later in life. The popular students in college (i.e.: Greek life students) tend to get far better grades and have far more successful job careers.
Other studies show that high school athletes gave more money to charity and volunteered more time than their more sedentary classmates. It also showed that high school athletes had much more successful and prestigious jobs and less low-status jobs and had higher wages. Female athletes also have more success, too.
A study called "Popularity" found that when looking at over 4,000 people in Wisconsin from when they were seniors in high school in 1957 up until the 2000s, they found that popular students who had very good social circles earned 2% higher wages than their peers 35 years later and they found a 10% wage gap 40 years later between people ranked in the 20th percentile of popularity versus people in the 80th percentile. They found that having large numbers of social contacts made it easier for people to develop connections and concluded: "an individual needs to have acquired and developed the appropriate social skills: understand the 'rules of the game'--how to gain acceptance and social support from colleagues, whom to trust and when to reciprocate."
Other statistics have shown that being part of the popular crowd does increase the risk of smoking cigarettes or drinking problems or sexual promiscuity, but they concluded that popular teens don't necessarily have to persist in this behavior after high school and could outgrow it:
"It is important to note that the current data do not speak to the long-term impact of these risk behaviors on adjustment. Some perceived popular adolescents might indeed grow into adults with significant adjustment problems, perhaps even stemming from their tendency to engage in risk behaviors. The fact that some perceived popular adolescents are disliked by their peers suggests that this type of high peer status may be characterized by low-quality friendships, perhaps putting them at even greater risk for maladjustment as they grow into adulthood. However, it is possible that perceived popular teens manage to experiment with risky behaviors over a relatively brief period without suffering long-term ill effects because these behaviors are exhibited in the context of other interpersonal, cognitive, and emotional strengths. They may indeed fit into Moffitt’s category of adolescence-limited delinquency, or adolescents who engage in delinquent behaviors for a relatively brief period of time as a means of bridging the ‘‘maturity gap’’ and establishing their independence from parents and other adults.
While the issue of specific psychosocial buffers remains an unanswered question, evidence from previous research suggests that risk behaviors among perceived popular adolescents may not have lasting negative effects. In a longitudinal follow-up of their original "Breakfast Club" sample, Barber, Eccles, & Stone (2001) found that, despite relatively high rates of drinking, young adults who had identified with the "Jock" character in high school exhibited high self-esteem, low social isolation and depressed mood, and low rates of suicide attempt at age 24. Again, we acknowledge that the ‘‘Jock’’ identity and perceived popularity are not identical constructs, especially for girls. But the association between sports involvement and popularity for boys suggests that the Barber et al. findings might have important implications for high- status boys. While perceived popularity is associated with risk behaviors in adolescence, this form of high status may not necessarily bode ill for these youth in the long run, and in fact, may indicate strengths (such as high self-esteem and low levels of depression) that will serve them well after the transition out of high school."
What researchers did find, however, was that lower-status teens and those who suffer depression or social anxiety may be at risk of emulating behaviors of popular teens to improve their own popularity: "Lower-status youth, however, may not possess the same protective characteristics (prosocial skills, leadership abilities) that may naturally buffer high-status children from subsequent adjustment problems. Thus, even if experimentation with taboo behaviors does not pose personal risk to high-status teens, such behavior may spread to lower- status teens who are not as well equipped to handle the attending risks."
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Lyons, Linda (July 5, 2005). "The "In" Crowd: Winners in High School, Losers in Life?". Gallup.
- Harding, Anne (April 28, 2015). "Bullying May Leave Worse Mental Scars Than Child Abuse". Live Science.
- Kniffin, K. M., Wansink, B., & Shimizu, M. (2015). Sports at work: Anticipated and persistent correlates of participation in high school athletics. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 22(2), 217–230. https://doi.org/10.1177/1548051814538099
- Smith, Peter & Singer, Monika & Hoel, Helge & Cooper, Cary. (2003). Victimization in the school and the workplace: Are there any links?. British journal of psychology (London, England : 1953). 94. 175-88. 10.1348/000712603321661868.
- Krings, Mike (January 24, 2014). "STUDY SHOWS HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES PERFORM BETTER IN SCHOOL, PERSIST TO GRADUATION MORE THAN NON-ATHLETES. The University of Kansas.
- Stegall, Ryan (November 30, 2012). "A STUDY IN THE GRADE POINT AVERAGE OF ATHLETES VS. NON‐ATHLETES" (PDF).
- Urdahl, Troy (July 26, 2018). "Using Data to Show the Link Between Sports Participation and Academic Achievement". Inside Out Initiative.
- De Lench, Brooke. "Cheerleaders: Leaders On and Off the Sports Sidelines". Moms Team.