High school is a time to explore your personality and find yourself. Generally, that means bouncing from clique to clique and adopting various personality traits in an effort to fit in. It’s a mess—and, really, it’s always been that way. That’s why so many awesome movies like The Breakfast Club and Mean Girls focus on that sense of social awkwardness that’s unique to high school.
With that in mind, we decided to break down the various groups of high school kids. An important note: Many of these groups overlap, and none of them are any worse or better than the others. Remember, high school is tough stuff, and it’s impossible to make it through without having a few awkward phases.
Speaking of awkward phases, at a typical high school, you’ll find…
The AP Kids
These kids are obsessed with keeping their grades high and taking every available Advanced Placement class in order to shave a few months off of their college careers. Inevitably, they’re also the kids who pursue master’s degrees—therefore staying in college, like, into their 30s.
Several of them will be co-valedictorians, and they’ll give speeches at graduation that quote Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Overall, though, they’re not too bad. They’re involved in tons of extracurricular activities (those activities look great on college applications, after all), and while they won’t go to many parties, they’ll make up for that in college.
The “Video Game Culture” Kids
Who has two thumbs and still collects Pokémon cards in 2019? These kids do (picture them pointing their thumbs at themselves).
Most teenagers enjoy the occasional video game, but these kids think that video games constitute an entire culture. Maybe they’re right—they spend hours online each week talking to their friends on Fortnite and Apex Legends, so it’s not like they don’t know how to socialize.
At school, they talk about Twitch streamers and show no interest in anything that doesn’t have some sort of tangential relationship to their favorite games. They’re happy. Let them be.
The Band Kids
Again, there’s overlap in these categories, but the band kids we’re talking about are dedicated to music. They’re in the marching band, jazz band, swing band, and possibly a few extracurricular bands, none of which sound good. Hey, they’re still learning how to play their instruments. Give them a break.
They’re quick with a “dumb drummer” joke, unless they’re drummers, in which case they’re quick with a “dumb trumpet player” joke. They tend to hang out with people in their section—the brass kids stick with the brass kids, the woodwinds stick with the woodwinds, and so on.
The Cooler Band Kids
These kids might not actually be in the school band program. They picked the cool instruments—guitars, keyboards, and other things that are actually used in modern music—and they’ve got SoundCloud accounts that they plug at every available opportunity.
Are they any good? Probably not, but you’ll still go see their gigs. Hey, it’s something to do.
The SoundCloud Rappers
They’re similar to the cool band kids, but with one important difference: SoundCloud rappers can’t play instruments, and they’re more likely to spend time talking about their music than actually doing anything musical. They wear expensive, ugly clothes (see the streetwear fashionista entry below) and plan to get face tattoos as soon as they graduate.
Give them a few years, and they’ll drop their rap aspirations and take an internship at their dad’s investment firm. Mumble rap might be their passion, but it doesn’t pay the bills.
The Drama Club Kids
These kids think that Monty Python’s Flying Circus is the height of comedy, and they’ll discuss their favorite Billy Joel albums while rattling off lines from Spamalot. Occasionally, they’ll break into song during lunch.
Some of them are also AP kids, but the dedicated drama kids are too consumed with the school’s upcoming production of Arsenic and Old Lace to hold down a better-than-perfect GPA.
The Dramatic Kids
Not to be confused with the drama club kids, the dramatic kids look for any excuse to make a scene. They break up with their significant others in big, vague social media posts, and they’re constantly feuding with their friends.
They tend to hang out with other dramatic kids, as this makes the drama more…well, dramatic. They spread rumors, backstab, and treat life like an episode of Real Housewives. At least they’re interesting.
The Kids Who Are Way Too Into Internet Jokes
We all love a good meme, but these kids take it too far. They think that referencing a popular YouTube clip makes them interesting, and they try to sneak references into every conversation (not to mention presentations and school projects).
It’s especially annoying when their references are dated. Nobody’s making Rick Roll references anymore…except these kids.
These are AP kids on another level. They want everyone to see that they’re capable of excellence, and that means going all-out on every presentation, running for class president, becoming the editor of the school paper, and generally doing everything to 110 percent.
These are also the kids who remind the teacher that she forget to collect the homework. They know the school administrators on a first-name basis, and they’ll probably end up at fantastic colleges (before inevitably dropping out after one semester due to a self-induced nervous breakdown).
The Smart Kids With Mediocre GPAs
If they wanted to, these kids could get scholarships at decent schools. They’re constantly reading, and they might be in a few AP classes, but they hold back.
Unlike the overachievers, these kids prioritize their hobbies and social relationships. Still, if they just put in a little more effort, they’d be in the running for valedictorian. Every once in a while, a well-meaning teacher will arrange after-class visits with one of these kids to try to push them to the next level, but these teens are happy with academic mediocrity.
The Streetwear Fashionistas
You might also call them “hypebeasts,” but they don’t like that term.
These are the kids who spend thousands of their parents’ dollars to rock the newest Yeezys, and they can tell you the difference between Nike SB Dunk Highs and Nike SB Blazers. They might drop a few hundred dollars on a plain white shirt.
They despise gym class, since they don’t have an opportunity to rock their gear—they can’t wear their basketball shoes on the court, lest they get scuffed—and brand names are incredibly important to them. They’re usually rich kids.
The Quirky Teens
These kids think of themselves as hilarious, but they confuse “funny” with “quirky.” They’re random for the sake of randomness, throwing out references to memes and internet videos for no apparent reason. They dress like their parents, adopting strange affectations to try to seem creative.
Eventually, they move into one of the other groups, since quirkiness isn’t a sustainable strategy for life, but they might remain quirky until they head off to college.
The Foreign Exchange Students
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Foreign exchange students often have a remarkably good grasp of the English language, to the point where they outperform their American peers. They’re often smart, funny, and endearing.
However, they’re also teenagers living hundreds of miles from home, so given the opportunity, they’ll party hard. As of 2016, there were nearly 82,000 international students in American high schools, and we’d bet that about 81,000 of them knew how to have a good time.
We’re not putting them down by calling them rednecks; they love self-applying the term. These kids wear camo to school and talk about hunting. They have simple haircuts, they’re outgoing, and they drive pickup trucks with impossibly large tires.
Unlike many of the other groups on this list, the redneck kids are comfortable with their identity, and they’re unlikely to change much in college. That’s not a bad thing—just don’t pass them the aux cord unless you’re ready to hear “Old Town Road” for the millionth time.
The Emo/Goth/Scene Kids
These cliques were more common in the ‘90s and ‘00s, but you’ll still find plenty of kids going through existential crises in 2019.
Life is hard, and death is inevitable, so these kids wear black clothes and read about the occult. Granted, some of them just read Twilight books, but you work with whatever’s available.
To the uninitiated, it’s difficult to tell the difference between these cliques, but they’re not identical. Emo kids color their hair purple and wear chokers. Scene kids listen to screamo and wear chokers. Goth kids take their senior year photos in graveyards and wear chokers. Those are important differences, Dad, so stop calling me Emo.
They’re angling for one of those elusive sports scholarships, even if they’re the backup quarterback on a middling football team. Athletic kids are always involved in at least one sport, and they love wearing their uniforms to school on game day.
Movies portray jocks as bullies, but that’s not necessarily the case. Today’s student athletes aren’t closed-minded jerks—they’re usually nice to the AP kids, since, well, they’ll need some help with their homework at some point.
The Basic Kids
They get excited about pumpkin spice, watch The Big Bang Theory, and listen to the radio. They say things like “living my best life,” and their social media profiles are filled with quotes from Marilyn Monroe and Arnold Schwarzenegger. No offense, Arnold.
Basic kids are fairly typical, but they’re not especially obnoxious. While they’re not interesting on the surface, basic kids tend to have good self-esteem, and they’re unlikely to bully anyone for being non-basic.
The Heavy Metal Kids
Heavy metal’s heydey was in the 1980s, but Metallica T-shirts and ripped jeans will never go out of style. Many schools still have sizable heavy metal cliques; these kids don’t have high GPAs, but they’ve got an encyclopedic knowledge of war metal, blackgaze, and sludge bands. If you don’t know what any of those terms mean, you’re not a metal kid.
While their preferred music genre focuses on devils, demons, and witchcraft, heavy metal kids are usually friendly and welcoming. Feel free to accompany them to a Mastodon concert. Just know what you’re getting into before you start moshing.
The Normal Kids That Act Totally Insane On Social Media
They’re almost identical to the basic kids, but when they’re online, they’re…something else. You often have discussions with your classmates about the insane stuff that these otherwise normal people post online.
It’s not necessarily bad—they just seem like entirely different people when they pick up their smartphones. In a way, you admire their honesty, but in another, more real way, you’re a bit worried about them.
The Cops Pretending To Be Students To Bust International Crime Rings
These kids are capable of growing full beards, and they’re constantly hanging around asking “where the party’s at.” They use outdated slang and think that Run DMC is still popular. Also, one of them is Johnny Depp.
Okay, maybe this was just at our school. Moving on…
The Kids Who Hate Everyone Else
What do you do when you don’t fit in anywhere and you’re not willing to make an effort? Simple: You make snide jokes and act like you’re above everyone else.
This group thinks they’re better than all the other groups on this list. They’re not. They’re uncomfortable with high school and uncomfortable with themselves, so they take out their confusion on their peers. They think that they see through the phoniness of the world, but they’re just as wrapped up in it as any of the rest of us. The big difference: They don’t get to enjoy the high school experience for what it is.
With that in mind, if you’re currently in high school, go ahead and explore your personality. Feel free to try out any of these cliques to see if something speaks to you. Make mistakes, dye your hair, and don’t worry about whether or not you’ll regret your choices as an adult (you will, but that’s unavoidable). Just don’t turn against everyone else—nobody likes the kids that hate everyone.