SURVEY SAYS – Did You "Clique" in High School?

June 5, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - With three teenagers running around the house, from time to time I am reminded of both the fun - and the travails - of high school days.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that we made an inquiry about college majors (see  SURVEY SAYS: How Relevant is Your College Major? ) – but this week, we took it back another level – to high school – and asked readers if their “experience” there had a big influence on their current job.   A plurality – 43.2% – said no, but nearly as many ( 38.7% ) said “maybe.”   The rest – 18.5% – said yes.

Recognize “Able?”

Most ( 57.9% ) of this week’s respondents felt that their high school friends would recognize them now – at least by personality.   Roughly 16% said those friends wouldn’t recognize them, and slightly more (17.4%) weren’t sure.   Just over 9% said “I hope not.”  “I am so glad you specified “personality”, since the physicality may be quite unrecognizable!,” exclaimed one reader.   Other comments included; “I’ve gained a little weight, and I have a much better hair cut, but I still look the same…. “ , “I have much shorter hair, glasses and lost a lot of weight. “ , while another was “…much more outgoing and outspoken than I was in high school”.

Of course, being recognizable may be a function of staying in touch with those friends – but nearly half ( 49.6% ) are no longer in regular contact with their best friend from high school, and more than one-in-five ( 21.5% ) said it “depends on what you mean by regular.”   On the other hand, 28.9% of this week’s respondents have maintained that contact.

By the way, a plurality of this week’s respondents ( 35.8% ) graduated in the 1980s, 31.7% in the 1970s, 17.5% in the 1990s, and 13.3% go back to the 1960s.   Less than 1% each graduated as far back as the 1950s, and the same percentage has graduated since 2000.

But then I asked readers to share which of the inevitable high school cliques they had been part of - and things got REALLY interesting.   First off, nearly a third ( 30.9% ) identified with "more than one" of the several cliques listed.   Additionally, many simply selected more than one of the cliques (which means that it can add to more than 100%).  

We had more "preppies" than any other clique category among this week's respondents ( 27.7% ), though jocks weren't far behind ( 20.2% ).   Roughly 16% said they were "nerds", while 14.9% were cheerleaders , and 13.8% class officers.   One in ten claimed they were "geeks", while hippies ( 4.3% ), class clowns ( 3.2% ), and greasers, pot head/doper, and "punks" were represented by 1% each.

"Others"

We did, of course, have a large number of "other" selections.   In this group a number said they weren't part of ANY clique (or at least none of those listed), while some - admittedly from smaller schools, said that, over the course of their high school career they were essentially part of ALL the cliques presented.   Among the cliques noted, but not in the survey list; "brains" or honors, "band geeks" (by my count, this was the most popular entry not on my list), drama divas, headbangers, cowboy/cowgirls, and wallflowers.  

One reader said "I played a sport, was pretty smart, loved art, and was photographer for Yearbook. I'm not sure what that made me...I was just careful to blend in as much as possible."  Another reader explained they were "just a face in the crowd."   Another said, "None of the above -- do you have a category for just your average teenager without a clique?

Among my favorite verbatims this week:

"What I tell my kids today when they are made fun of for being smart. That the smart ones in school are probably going to be everyone's boss when they get older. Getting older makes you realize that people spend a lot more time being "old" in their life than being young, and the maturity factor makes being older more enjoyable in many ways than being young. In high school 30 seemed old, 40 was unimaginable, and 50's and 60's were practically in the grave. I didn't anticipate that I would be pretty much the same person on the inside, other than more knowledgeable and mature, at age 18 than at age 50."

"When we weren't in class or study groups, my buds and I hung around a certain tree on campus so we were called "the tree people". We attended an all girls Catholic high school, so while we definitely had well developed senses of humor (they never found out who put the dry ice in the toilet before Sister X sat on it), there's no way I could be categorized."

"You could not pay me enough to go back to high school. The constant self-doubt was torture and college came as a relief. The realization that people do not really care what your parents do, how fashionable your clothes are and what you look like was liberating."

"You could not pay me enough to go back! College, yes, but high school -- no way!!!"

But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who offered an assessment that I'm not sure I agree with; "Thank god that life isn't like high school."

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!

Tune in tomorrow for reader answers to the question "If you knew in high school what you know now, what, if anything, would you do differently?"    

None of the above -- do you have a category for just your average teenager without a clique?
Our school started the modular program, where the days were split into 17 20 minute "mods", not periods, to simulate what college was supposed to be like so we would learn to manage our time. When we weren't in class or study groups, my buds and I hung around a certain tree on campus so we were called "the tree people". We attended an all girls Catholic high school, so while we definitely had well developed senses of humor (they never found out who put the dry ice in the toilet before Sister X sat on it), there's no way I could be categorized.
You need to add "HEADBANGER" for us rock-n-rollers!
Drama Freak
I was very quiet and a good little student. The only clique I was in, if you want to call it that, was the marching band and symphonic band.
I think I was fairly average -- involved in some sports & drama and a good (but not great) student. I went to a small school and there might have been one or two people in each of the categories above and everyone else fell into a general category.
Honors student
Band Geek
There's no name for my group. I was part of the invisible crowd.
I was very involved in sports but tended not to be in the major clique nor an outsider. I believe they call people like me G.D.I.
Where do you classify the Band people? I didn't see a category for them, although I suppose Geek is probably the closest, or maybe Cheerleader since we were pretty visible. I was not a typical band person because I also hung with some pothead/dopers on the side (back in the 70's).
Combination of hippie, nerd, and preppie
I was in all honors classes, but being smart was "cool" as many of the "ultra-popular" students were in my classes. I think I just mostly "blended in" as I pretty much had friends in all of the groups listed here.
I was part of a musical clique (band) and the theater clique.
I associated with several "clicks" as we referred to them. Jock, preppie, class officer, academic...and a couple of others I'll not name.
private school....honor student but not geek
In a small school of less than 200 I was involved in everything from sports to honor society.
I floated between what I now see were cliques. I didn't recognize groups back then... ah the innocence of youth
You forgot the "cowboys/cowgirls" category.
None really
Honor society.
A music & drama smartie - but in my school that wasn't a nerdy or geeky thing.
Was in 4 high schools, group depended on how the other students in the school looked at people who did well.
Wallflower
One of the nameless, unknown masses of common students. In small town, 1960's Texas, we only had the first four.
Partier. Newspaper.
In the mainstream
I played a sport, was pretty smart, loved art, and was photographer for Yearbook. I'm not sure what that made me...I was just careful to blend in as much as possible.
Drama Diva; poor kid
I was one of the "band geeks" and may have been considered a nerd (and "goody two shoes") which usually comes with being in the honors classes and eventual valedictorian. However, participating and lettering in sports probably gave me the buffer against bullying and enough popularity or at least acceptance with the jocks and those of the opposite gender to make High School a good time. Or maybe it was complete naivete that I did not know any better.
Homecoming queen, musical theater choir president, danceline
Band
I was in the band--and in my school that was its own clique.
Musicians
Intrerestingly, I had friends who were cheerleaders, class officers, jocks, hippies, nerds, geeks, potheads and preppies but myself did not belong to any one clique.
Drum Majorette, Student Body Secretary, Athlete, Musician
National Honor Society, Musician
It was not called preppie in the 60's but it was the high acheiver better dressed clique and everyone who was anyone owned a pair of Bass weejuns.
I was sort of a Nerd academically, but since I was the student manager of the football and basketball teams, I hung out with and was friends with all the jocks.
None
Smart (honor society)
Band member....need I say more?!?!?
I'm apparently doomed to stay in technical/professional jobs, since I was honor society, athlete and geek. I work in a technical area of my company, and all of us were that combination -- except our boss, who was a cheerleader.
honor society member and band (orchestra, chorus) member who hung around with the motorheads
Shy, quiet book girl. Straight As. Everyone came to me if they needed tutoring or notes. I was not quite the Geek, but came real close.
I was in the band! Which, in our high school, was a GOOD thing! 20% of our school's population was in the band.
Was just a face in the crowd
Not a popular "jock" as I was a swimmer, but we always had a winning record unlike the other jock heavy sports. I also hung out with dangerous nerds who were able to apply our chemistry and physics knowledge in potentially dangerous ways, but it was still fun! We were also "Grunge."
Most of my friends were athletic (track and cross country) but I wasn't an athlete.
I was very quiet and smart but didn't hang out with the geeks or nerds - I was just on my own I guess.
Nerdy loner

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