Grade level in relation to social status

By Emma Sundeen

What defines fitting in?
“The way you look and the people you surround yourself with.” says Avery Amende, a freshman.
“Fitting in is being able to walk along through the halls of the high school without being ridiculed or looked at strangely for being different than everyone else, but yet you can still be yourself and be accepted by your peers,” says Aiden Fink, a sophomore.
Devita Sexson, a junior, says that “Fitting in would be like getting to know people, being more engaged.”
“[Fitting in] is confining to social means,” says Guy Hollabaugh, a senior. “You can fit in with many different crowds, you can fit in with the unique people who act differently and aren’t afraid to be themselves. You can be with the other people that are just trying to be cool and hang out with all the other cool kids.”
These answers were fairly common across grade levels; however when asked if grade level affects social status the answers were no longer as similar.
The idea that freshman are naturally lower on the popularity levels of high school may be common – but it might not be true. While there was the overarching idea that freshman are ridiculed significantly more than upperclassmen; there was not the stereotyped idea that freshman have a lower social status. In fact, there was no generalization of grade level affecting where you stood in the social hierarchy of the school.
Instead, Bozeman High School students say the group of people that you associate with, the amount of friends you have and who those friends are play a much larger role in popularity.
Even wealth turned out to be a main factor in social status – whether it was having a wealthy family or having material wealth in the form of clothes or items.
“Some people view social status as directly related to their image, it depends on the kind of clothes that they buy,” says Fink.
Sexson agreed, saying that the amount of money your family has helps decide who your friends with, your friend group depends on your wealth and their wealth.
Comparing the perspectives of a freshman and a senior, there is a lack of strong opinion on the social status of underclassmen and upperclassmen.
When asked whether they believed there was a social status within the school or not, Amende says, “There are some really well known people, mainly upperclassmen.”
Guy Hollabaugh, a senior, says that maturity level is a contributing factor to social status. However as Fink puts it, fitting in is “a test of time instead of what grade level you are.”
While questions concerning what it means to fit in may still circulate, and grade level and wealth may play a large part in your social status, the ultimate factor of fitting in is finding a good group of friends to surround yourself with – that’s what matters the most.

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