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Prom: How Teens Feel About Real World Issues


Prom - a postive or negative tradition?

How do teens feel about prom?

Question:  Is prom a positive or negative teen tradition? 

Answer:  Our results are in...

  • 51% of teens view prom positively

  • 34% negatively

  • 15% have a neutral view on prom   

Below is StageofLife.com's summary report on teens' attitudes toward prom compiled from the data, insights and essays shared by students in high school and college participating in StageofLife.com's proprietary student writing contest series.

This includes a showcase of over 85 essays from high school and college students (see below) as they answered the writing contest writing prompt...

"Prom:  A positive or negative teen tradition?"

Introduction:

How do teens feel about prom?  Going to prom is a high school milestone, and prom traditions have been around for decades.  Dresses.  Dinner. DJ's.  Dancing.  For most teenagers, it's about celebrating life with friends and/or a significant other.  However, we've all heard the "negative" aspects often associated with prom too.  Drinking.  Drugs.  DUI's.  Damaged self-esteem.  Date rape.  So we want to know - is prom a positive or negative milestone?

Student Reach:

Over 5,345 students from all 50 US states and dozens of countries visited the StageofLife.com writing contest page during the month of essay contest (April 2011), and scores of high school and college students submitted their thoughts about the media via their 500 word essay.  From the essay submissions, five key themes and trends emerged about prom:

Teen Trends / Themes on Prom:

  1. Rite of Passage:   Many teens felt that prom is a rite of passage and a high school milestone. Prom signifies the end of a high school career, more so than graduation.

  2. Dangerous:   On the other hand, teens also felt that prom has lost its original intentions of being a relaxing night out. Many students wrote about the problems of excessive drinking, drug use, car accidents, date rape, pressure, and low-self esteem issues that prom can spur.

  3. Cost: Almost everyone agreed that prom is an expensive tradition—between the ticket, dress, and other accessories, some prom-goers spend $300 or more to attend the event.

  4. Safety:  Many teens agreed that prom needed to be safer, or that students needed to make better choices. Regardless, prom is about having fun with your friends; and if you stay away from dangerous decisions, you will probably have a good time.

  5. A Night to Remember”:  Interestingly, six teens titled their essays “A Night to Remember,” which suggests that prom still has some sort of “magical” allure. Most teens wrote about the hype that is associated with prom; but teens were almost split on whether this hype was positive or negative.


    Data: 

    Of the high school and college students participating in the prom essay contest...

    • 5,374 teen/college students from 33 countries visited writing contest page

    • 79% of those were from the United States
    • Top ten U.S. states sending students to the writing contest page (in rank percentage order): New York, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan
    • Top ten cities sending students to the contest page:  New York, Waukesha, Los Angeles, Princeton, Frederick, Fremont, Lexington, York, Hilo, Gaithersburg

    • Majority of students visiting contest page came from a Google search.  The primary sources of traffic came from "direct" (students already familiar with StageofLife.com), the StageofLife.com eNewsletter and then Bing.com.
    • 43% of the teens use Internet Explorer as their browser (with Firefox and Safari coming in second and third)
    • 75% of the teens were first time visitors to the StageofLife.com writing contest


The Essays: 

Immediately below, you'll find featured links to the StageofLife.com winning essay, our semi-finalists and over 85 other prom essays from college students and teenagers that answered the question, "Is prom a negative or positive teen tradition?"

Please take a few moments to read an essay or two. If you have the time, make a comment on the responses you enjoyed the most.  We know the student writers will love hearing your positive input (they'll get an email notifying them if you comment on their contest entry).


Student Writing Contest Winner


Winner:



Finalists:



    Aside from the finalists, we had a wide variety of teen writing contest entry essays about prom.  We've categorized the responses by how the writer viewed prom, i.e. positively, negatively or neutral:

    How do teens feel about prom?

    Positive Views of Prom

    1. Prom: Meant for each other (Prom is a special night, but it can cost a lot of money)

    2. Prom: A Night to Remember (Prom is a necessary, positive experience for all teens)

    3. Prom: A Night to Remember (Having a good time at prom means making good decisions)

    4. Prom: A Wholesome Time (Prose about how, although there may be stresses involved, people can still make wholesome decisions regarding prom)

    5. Prom: Why is it so special? (Positive or negative, prom is the most important part of a student’s high school career)

    6. Prom: Or something like it (Prom is a reward for putting up with the hell of high school)

    7. Prom: Catching a Fairytale (She has waited for years to “catch her fairytale”, and her expectations are very high)

    8. Prom: My Kind of Party (The school’s “after prom” party eliminates any worry of dangerous activities at or after prom)

    9. Prom: Bittersweet? (Prom is a time to make memories with friends before graduation)

    10. Prom: A Necessary Evil (Prom is a necessary rite of passage that brings a sense of completion)

    11. Prom: A good tradition (Drinking and sex are not a problem at her school because she lives in a small town)

    12. Prom: My date with Mr. Amazing (She had an amazing date with her dream boy)

    13. Prom: A Night to Remember (Prom is a part of growing up)

    14. Prom: Forever Young, Forever Stressed (Prom is enjoyable, but it is also extremely stressful)

    15. Prom: Removing something that can never be forgotten? (Prom is a rare tradition and shouldn’t be taken away from hard working students)

    16. Prom: To Prom or not to Prom: That is the question (Prom is a great break from the worries of school life)

    17. Prom: A Night to Remember (Prom is a night to remember, not a night to lose a life)

    18. Prom: The Final Showcase (When prom is not taken so seriously, it can be a lot of fun)

    19. Prom: A positive or negative teen tradition? (Prom is transition from childhood to adulthood)

    20. Prom: Dangerous (Prom is good when it is monitored)

    21. Prom: It’s Here to Stay (Students only focus on fun at prom, not drinking and drugs)

    22. Prom: Outlook (Prom is about creating memories and having fun)

    23. Prom (Prom is a dream come true)

    24. Prom: A Night of Fantasy, or Broken Promises? (Prom is positive so long as there are no drugs and alcohol involved)

    25. Prom: A Day to Remember (Students will remember prom for the rest of their lives… although there are very negative aspects)

    26. Prom: The Most Important Day of Your Life (It is more important to remember the people you were with, than the dress or hair)

    27. Prom: A Positive Celebration (The only negative risks of prom come from students making negative decisions)

    28. Prom: The Time of Our Life (Prom is a time where girls can feel special, beautiful, and confident)

    29. Prom: One Dance Has A Million Memories (Prom brought her closer to her friends)

    30. Prom: A positive or negative teen tradition? (Make your prom memorable for you, not for anyone else)

    31. Prom: I’ll Be There (Prom has had a very positive effect on this writer’s community)

    32. Prom: A Night to Remember (Going to prom is a high school milestone)

    33. Prom (Pre-prom is the most exciting part of prom)

    34. Prom: How much is that dress really worth? (Don’t spend too much money, because you will only remember being with your friends anyway)

    35. Prom: An indelible part of my life (Her prom night was perfect)

    36. Prom: An experience for everyone (Prom is the highlight of high school)

    37. Prom: Filled with memories (Her prom had an African Safari theme; and she got to dance with her friends)

    38. Prom: The Time of my Life (A poem about how much she enjoyed prom)

    39. Prom: My Aunt’s “Buy One Get One Free” (Her aunt makes homemade prom dresses)

    40. Prom: Revered and Reviled (Prom is about being with people you love, and staying safe)

    41. Prom: A Place To Be Yourself (Prom is a time to let loose, have fun, and hang out with friends)

    42. Prom: The High School Rite of Passage (Focusing on the positive things make prom a good experience)

    43. Prom: A Night to Remember (Prom signifies the end of a student’s high school career)

    44. Prom: It’s a good thing! (Her school buses students to and from prom to keep them safe)

    45. Prom: A High School Tradition (Negative things happen on prom, but they don’t have to happen to you)

    Negative Views of Prom

    1. Prom: You’ve got to be kidding me… (She went with her best friend’s ex-date so he wouldn’t lose the money he had made to spend on prom)

    2. Prom: A Night to Forget (Although she had some fun, she witnessed students using drugs)

    3. Prom: How Far We’ve Come (Prom used to be about having fun, but now it is about material things)

    4. Prom: An Unnecessary Disaster Waiting to Occur (There is too much pressure involved in prom—before, during, and after)

    5. Prom: A Dangerous Tradition (If this writer could cancel prom, she would)

    6. Prom: The Night of Doom (Prom night isn’t entirely freeing; think twice before drinking, using drugs, or having sex)

    7. Prom: A Temptation Most Give Into (Students dangerously race cars before and after prom)

    8. Prom: Not a Disney Show (Prom can only be fun if you make responsible decisions)

    9. Prom: An Epidemic? “Vanity is the quicksand of Reason”—George Sand (Girls delude themselves into expecting a “perfect” prom)

    10. Prom: To Go or Not to Go (Shakespeare parody debating her presence at prom)

    11. Prom: Detrimental Changes (Prom is supposed to be a ball, not a school dance)

    12. Prom: A Night to Destroy Everything (Many students destroy the fun of prom by taking part in illegal activities)

    13. Prom: God Save The Queen? (Fantasies for prom queen titles are years in the making, but take seconds to destroy)

    14. Prom: No One Really Cares (Prom is great for some people, but everyone else doesn’t care)

    15. Prom: Worries (Students are exposed to negative things like low self-esteem, drugs, and drinking)

    16. Prom: The Cruel Reality (Prom is a venue for destructive decisions)

    17. PROM-blem? (Prom is an expensive waste of time)

    18. Prom: Right or just plain wrong? (You don’t need prom to make you feel good about yourself; just think positively)

    19. Prom: The Party of a Lifetime? (Prom is negative because of the amount of money spent and the potential for dangerous decisions)

    20. Prom: A Dangerous Game (Prom is a rite of passage through hell and back)

    21. Prom: Time for a Reality Check (Many prom attendees think relationships are more important than logic)

    22. Prom: Is it really worth dying for? (The negative risks of prom far outweigh the few positives)

    23. Prom: Expectations vs. Reality (In her school, the dangerous after prom is more important than prom)

    24. Prom: The Teenage Ideal (Prom is a night of negative make believe)

    25. Prom: Negative or Positive? (This writer doesn’t need prom)

    26. Prom: A Truly Unmagical Experience (The best part about prom was watching a movie afterwards with her sister)

    27. Prom: What a waste (Why would someone want to spend money on a person they don’t know just to go to prom?)

    28. Prom: Bad Idea (Prom is negative because of the drama of dresses, dates, and royalty)

    29. Prom: Negative impact of prom on growing generation (Prom can lead to many destructive behaviors)

    30. Prom: What About the Bigger Picture? (She doesn’t want to go to prom because she doesn’t want it to negatively affect the rest of her life)

    Neutral Views on Prom

    1. Prom: Awkward, Fun Times (If you expect to have fun at prom, then you probably will; and vice versa)

    2. Prom: Subjective (Prom is a hyped up experience; it is fun, but not important)

    3. Prom: How Will You Remember It? (Prom can be a catty social event, or it can be about having a good time)

    4. Prom: Exploring Prom’s Social Reputation and the Effect on Opinion (Prom is the last rung on her “priority ladder”)

    5. Prom: A positive or negative tradition? (Prom can be positive or negative, depending on how you spend the night)

    6. Prom: A Night in the Air (Her junior prom involved a lot of drinking, but she hopes her senior prom goes much better)

    7. Prom: the dress, the drinking, the decisions? Oh my! (If you go to prom sober, prom will be a lot more fun)

    8. Prom: To go or not to go? (She wonders if prom is good or not)

    9. Prom: The pros and cons (There are positive and negative things about prom)

    10. Prom: Simple Measures Can Save Lives (Anti-drinking and other preventative programs can make prom safer)

    11. Prom: Negative or positive (Having fun at prom depends on your mood)

    12. Prom: A Nihilistic Rampage Or A Smashing Good Time? (Prom is an easily manipulated event)

    13. Prom: Prom Night (You make prom what you want)




    Last Words:  We could not list all of the essays submitted for this contest, but we thank every student that participated in the conversation about prom.  To enter the current Stage of Life monthly writing contest for high school students and college students:

     

    Stage of Life - Student Writing Contest Press Release

    Here is the press release on StageofLife.com's findings:

    StageofLife.com Reports 34% of Teens Don't Like Prom

    May 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Going to prom is a high school milestone, and prom traditions have been around for decades: Dresses.  Dinner. DJ's.  Dancing.  For most teenagers, it's about celebrating life with friends and/or a significant other.  However, there are also the negative aspects often associated with prom too: Drinking.  Drugs.  DUI's. Damaged self-esteem. Date rape.

    StageofLife.com, a blogging resource for high school students, Baby Boomers, and every life stage in between, wanted to know how teens really felt about prom.  As part of its monthly teen writing contest series, StageofLife.com asked thousands of students the question, "Is prom a positive or negative high school tradition?"

    Over 5,345 students from all 50 U.S. states and dozens of countries visited the site's writing contest page and scores of high school and college students submitted their thoughts about prom via a 500 word essay to the StageofLife.com website.

    From the submissions, of which over 80 essays are showcased on StageofLife.com's teen trends summary page, 51% of teens find the idea of prom positive and enjoy the activity, while 34% think it's negative/"dumb," and another 15% have a neutral view of prom.  StageofLife.com also posed the prom question on its Facebook Fan Page and found more favorable results from a mixed audience of college and older individuals:  85% thought prom was a positive event, while only 15% said it was negative.

    From the writing contest essay submissions about prom on StageofLife.com, five key themes and trends emerged:

    1. Rite of Passage:  Many teens felt that prom is a rite of passage and a high school milestone.  Prom signifies the end of a high school career, more so than graduation.

    One finalist, katimae, wrote, "I say that if going to prom can bring you that sense of completion, then what's the harm? We have the rest of our lives to be discontent with so many open-endings that will undoubtedly arise. If you're able to look past the stress, following the crowd and going to prom can be a major highlight of your younger years" in her essay Prom: A Necessary Evil.

    2. Dangerous:  On the other hand, teens also felt that prom has lost its original intentions of being a relaxing night out. Many students wrote about the problems of excessive drinking, drug use, car accidents, date rape, pressure, and low-self esteem issues that prom can spur.

    Finalist, Shana Zucker, of Deerfield High School, from Deerfield, Illinois, wrote in her essay Prom: Is it really worth dying for, "Some girls dream of going to prom. 'I'd die to go to prom this year!' they exaggerate. Yet they forget that students have died on the night of a school dance. 'I'd do anything!' But is it worth it? The girls who aren't asked to the dance are left with wounded self-esteem and a low self-image; they starve themselves or binge in an effort to be skinny. Those who are asked will do anything to be cool, even if it means drinking and driving, doing drugs, or engaging in sexual behavior that they are not comfortable with. Even students who don't drink and drive can be hit by a car due to a student driver who didn't make wise decisions."

    3. Cost:  Almost everyone agreed that prom is an expensive tradition -- between the ticket, dress, and other accessories, some prom-goers spend $300 or more to attend the event.

    Teen Blogger, Callie Ridenour, wrote in her essay, Prom: How Much is that Dress Really Worth, "Last year's expenses: the deep royal blue dress itself -- $380, the delicate alterations on the beading of the straps -- $75, the glittering stoned silver shoes -- $125, the ever so stylish hairdo -- $87, the French nail gels -- $105, the aqua blue stone earrings and ring -- $60, the silver bag that matched perfectly -- $36, and lastly the ridiculous amount of gas used to drive all over New Jersey to find these things -- oh, somewhere around $200. A year later as I'm beginning my frantic prom search again, I am disgusted with the amount of money I spent!"

    4. Safety:  Many teens agreed that prom needed to be safer, or that students needed to make better choices. Regardless, prom is about having fun with your friends; and if you stay away from dangerous decisions, you will probably have a good time.

    Teen blogger, Priyanka Garigipati, of Clark High School from Plano, TX, wrote, "The excitement prom gives is like a drug itself that keeps you dancing on the top of mountain ecstasy. On the other hand, we tend to make stupid decisions. We expose ourselves to alcohol, sex, and drugs; the whole package in one night" in the essay Prom: The Night of Doom.

    5. "A Night to Remember":  Interestingly, multiple teens titled their essays "A Night to Remember," which suggests that prom still has some sort of "magical" allure. Most teens wrote about the hype that is associated with prom; but teens were almost split on whether this hype was positive or negative.

    Felicia Czochanski, of Metuchen High School, from Metuchen, NJ, a contest finalist wrote, "This year alone, I've seen my sisters reading books such as Prom, and now Disney Channel has come out with a movie called "Prom". Expectations for prom are rising for young kids. By the time it's their turn to experience the big night, I'm afraid that it might not be everything they dreamed for. Next year I will be a junior, the first year I'll be able to attend and I'm so excited for the magic of the night. I've waited so many years to catch my own fairytale and I'll admit, my expectations are pretty high" in her essay Prom: Catching a Fairytale.

    College blogger, Kay Porter, of Stephen F. Austin State University from Nacogdoches TX, wrote, "Prom was wonderful for all of five minutes. After I realized these were just the people I went to school with, we were in our poorly decorated basketball gym that smelled of sweat, and my date was a guy that meant nothing to me, the magic of the prom was gone. Of course, I danced and laughed with my friends at the already drunk couples making fools of themselves but this was just me hanging out with my friends in expensive clothes: Nothing new. The night ended as it began with excitement for going somewhere, however, the excitement at the end of the night was I could finally go home, change into comfortable clothes, take out the torturous pins in my hair, and watch a bad romantic comedy with my sister" in the essay Prom: A Truly Unmagical Experience.

    StageofLife.com prom writing contest finalists were:

    • Shana Zucker, Deerfield High School, from Deerfield, IL
    • Priyanka Garigipati, Clark High School, from Plano, TX
    • Julia Rhodes,  Friends School, from Wilmington, DE
    • Kay Porter,  Stephen F. Austin State University, from Nacogdoches, TX
    • Maxie Lindholm, Groves High School, from Southfield, MI
    • Christine Fossaceca, Urbana High School, from Frederick, MD
    • William Gage Dingeldein, Pelion High School, from Lexington, SC
    • Hope Roberts, Rim of the World High School, from Crestline
    • Felicia Czochanski, Metuchen High School, from Metuchen, NJ
    • Aaron Englebardt, Greenville High School, from Greenville, SC
    • Callie Ridenour, West Morris Mendham High School, from Chester, NJ

    A full recap of the writing contest along with postings of the teen prom essays can be viewed at http://www.stageoflife.com/prom.aspx

    StageofLife.com CEO, Eric Thiegs, added, "The majority of the student essays we had were quite positive.  With titles like 'Time of My Life,' 'A Day to Remember' and 'My Date With Mr. Amazing,' reading many of these essays brought me back to my senior prom 20 years ago... which is important to me because my date later became (and is now) my wife!"

    May 2011 Writing Contest for High School Students

    This month's writing contest for high school students on StageofLife.com asks the question, "What was the most difficult thing you overcame this school year?"

    Entries will be accepted up till May 30th at Midnight PDT and the essay winner will receive a gift card/cash prize from prize sponsors like KodakGallery.com, StageofLife.com SWAG, and featured writing status on the site.

    StageofLife.com works with thousands of bloggers from all stages of life along with its sponsors, like Mint.com et al, on its mission of making the world a better place, one story and one resource at a time.

    About Stage of Life®:  StageofLife.com is a free, non-partisan, grassroots blogging community that hosts stories, information and resources for teens, Millennials/Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomer generations. Its specialized content allows users to share and archive their life stories. StageofLife.com also touts free lesson plans and writing prompts for Language Arts teachers, monthly writing contests, blogging resources, a platform that helps people promote their blogs, teen trends analysis, custom news feeds for each stage of life, and much more.  The site also features My Life Rewards, relevant coupons and discounts exclusively geared towards each stage of life as StageofLife.com works to provide, "Rewards for Life's Journey®."

    SOURCE StageofLife.com

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