Do you know how many YA contemporary books are set in public high school? A lot. Do you know how many of those are set in senior year, usually the spring before they graduate? A lot more. Do you know how many of those realistically portrayed what senior year is supposed to be like? A whole lot less. Real life is no fun and usually boring so I get wanting to spice things up, but is it really necessary to traumatically disappoint me?
I took the ACTs earlier than most, but still continued to take it throughout my senior year to boost my score (I did well the earlier times, but a certain scholarship I needed required a high score that I kept missing by a point or less). There've been books that have talked about the SATs and others that have talked about scholarships. A lot of times, there has been mention of stress about picking a college and deciding what to do or how to get there or coping with growing up. But I NEVER read a book that accurately described the stress and the confusing, mundane tasks to actually reach college.
The super long list I was never informed I had to do to reach college includes...
- Paying to just apply for college
- Writing AT LEAST a 500 word essay (one I looked at had TWO!) along with other repetitive questions
- Actually deciding on which college, which requires lots of research and worrying
- Making sure the college you want knows you're accepting
- Signing up for housing (required, along with a meal plan for my college)
- Worrying about your roommate
- Waiting forever to hear about your room assignment
- Signing up for orientation
- Completing FAFSA
- Sending in your immunization forms...several times
- Repeatedly sending in your transcripts
- Applying for lots of scholarships
- Waiting to see if you're accepted for those scholarships, and having panic attacks when you're not and having dance parties when you are
- Worry more about money, repeat this 10x
- Go to orientation and be severely bored
- Sign up for classes
These are just the ones I remember off the top of my head and they don't even include junior year. Or deciding on which major you want. The problem with YA contemporary fiction is that it's way more fun than real life. I'm not saying that I don't want that, but it's cruel to realize you don't live in the same world. I constantly read about these people "worrying" (yeah, sure, whatever. Your stress is MINUSCULE compared to mine) about colleges, but they end up going to an out of state university. Those bad boys are about $20,000 more expensive! If you're a normal kid, where are you getting all this money from? What about the transportation home? What about your ACT/SAT scores? I've read a story where the girl was obsessed with memorizing vocabulary, but what about the other aspects? What about all the mundane details? Aren't you going to at least mention them?
The growing up process is extremely different in fiction than it is in reality, as should be expected. But being a book lover makes it complicated. You want to connect with the character and have her feel the same way as you, but it's hard when your stress level is sky high and hers barely reaches the fence level.
So fiction has given me another unrealistic expectation to grumble about because life is way harder than the (contemporary) main characters' growing up problems. Unless you live in Panem, I don't believe your complaints. Too bad you have [this problem] to deal with, but yay for you, you magically get accepted into the school of your choice far away even though you never studied.
What's your complaint with YA contemporary, especially with school settings? Did you find your expectations for growing up completely delusional?