News & Politics

Secret Life of Teens: Beyond High School

Kids From Nearly 50 High Schools Told Us What They Won’t Tell You.

Editor’s Note: To protect the kids’ confidentiality, pseudonyms and photographs of models have been used.

The College Chase

“Some of my friends were like, ‘I’m not gonna get into college because I have a 3.3.’ ”

—Jason, 17, Paul VI, Fairfax

“I know I’ll go to a great school, but nothing’s definite. I do get stressed out. I’m not a genius, I don’t get straight A’s, I have to really work hard. Even though NCS has such great opportunities—and yeah, it’s sort of unfair that we’re the ones who get those opportunities—it’s not like we don’t work for it. People expect a lot of us.”

—Samantha, 17, National Cathedral School, DC

“A lot of people applied to all the Ivies or all the top schools—they didn’t take into account whether they’d be happy there. That’s pointless. Especially in the International Baccalaureate program—there’s a large group of people who are obsessed with the name of the college.”

—Matt, 18, Richard Montgomery, Rockville

“If you get into UVa, you’re a god of McLean. People are like, ‘You’re a genius.’ ”

—Michelle, 17, McLean High

“I used to be stressed out, and I kinda got over that. I just realized that life isn’t about getting into college. I can go to the University of Maryland, and that’s fine.”

—Erica, 17, Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville

“I’m looking for a place where people aren’t solely focused on drinking. Anyone can go to Langley, and one of the most frustrating things is that no one else does work on group projects. I’m looking forward to people actually wanting to be there—not having to be.”

—Julie, 17, Langley, McLean

The Real World

“I make peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for homeless people every Wednesday. I go to Shepherd’s Table sometimes, and I serve and clean. You feel good after.”

—Callie, 17, Stone Ridge, Bethesda

“We talk about global warming a lot. All of us are scared because when we’re older it’s gonna be really serious. I didn’t see An Inconvenient Truth, because I don’t need to be that scared. I don’t want to know the real truth.”

—Lucy, 16, Maret, DC

“One of my cousins is in a gang. I’m scared for him sometimes because I hear him talking after school saying, ‘I’m going to bring my gun.’ He called it his hammer.”

—Monique, 17, McKinley Tech, DC

God and Conscience

“I believe in God and everything. I know when I’m older I’m going to be religious. But right now I just want to be young and have fun.”

—Amber, 17, High Point, Beltsville

“Sometimes my sister and I go to church together. I like thinking that I’m getting closer to God and he’s going to forgive me for everything I do.”

—Abby, Archbishop Spalding, Severn

“I believe God is watching me. I pray every night before I sleep. I pray every morning when I wake. I pray before I leave the house, even if it’s to walk just one block. You never know what could happen. A car could slam right into you.”

—Imani, 17, Annapolis High

“I’m Catholic, and my sister got me involved in our church. I started going on mission trips, and it is so much fun. I’m obsessed with my church now. I feel closest to God when I go on those trips. It’s hard to explain. There’s just this vibe there.”

—Laura, 15, Broadneck, Annapolis

What’s My Future?

“When I’m older, I just hope there’s no chaos. I don’t deal with chaos well—yelling, screaming. I’m done with it.”

—Lisa, Prince George’s County 16-year-old

“I worry about being on my own and trying to control everything in my life and having that real freedom that I want so badly now. In a way, it’s nice to still have someone hanging over my head saying, ‘Be home at 12.’ ”

—Jennifer, 18, Springbrook, Silver Spring

“After college, I bet life is just going to be really routine. Like if you flip on the news, they say, ‘Traffic on 395 to Washington is really bad.’ And people do that every morning.”

—Andrew, 18, Wakefield, Arlington

“I don’t think anything in high school has anything to do with the real world.”

—Lindsay, Archbishop Spalding, Severn

“I’m so over high school.”

—Hilary, 18, Loudoun County High, Leesburg

“I tell my parents just enough so they think I tell them everything. I wouldn’t say I lie to my parents. I’m more of an omitter.”

—Josh, 17, Bethesda–Chevy Chase High

“The girls have to have name-brand clothes—Juicy Couture, True Religion jeans, or Seven jeans.”

—Lindsay, Archbishop Spalding, Severn

“If females are well endowed or a size zero, of course they’re going to be in the more popular group.”

—Jake, 18, St. Andrew’s Episcopal, Potomac

“It’s not impossible to have fun if you’re not drinking—it’s just really hard.”

—Jason, 17, Paul VI Catholic High, Fairfax

“I very much enjoy hookah. It gives you a happy feeling. It’s a good thing for parties because you just pass the mouthpiece around.”

—Keith, 18, Blair, Silver Spring

“Hooking up is anything from making out to having sex. It’s a pretty flexible term. Generally, it’s something you don’t intend to follow up on.”

—Maggie, 18, H-B Woodlawn, Arlington

“You listen to our headmistress speak, and it’s like it’s a cult. They expect you to be well dressed, well mannered, on top of your game 24-7.”

—Name and school withheld