Is the high school experience worth the money ?


Angel Paz, Staff Writer

Having the “full high school experience” is expensive, and most American teens cannot afford to do it all. Within the public school system are hidden costs that can quickly add up, forcing many families to choose what they spend their money on.

To start, there are the obvious costs. Necessary school supplies such as pens, folders, notebooks, and  calculators can be costly, especially for families with multiple children. According to a 2021 article from The Washington Post about the skyrocketing cost of school supplies, in 2020 parents spent an average of $529 per child on school supplies, even with many students at home in remote schools. 

Even a backpack can come with a costly price tag. Some brands, such as North Face and Herschel, can set a student back $100. 

And, if you want to participate in an athletic activity, you better be ready to throw down some serious cash. 

LSE freshman Christian Zuniga is on the football, wrestling and soccer teams. Zuniga believes that after buying the gear and the tickets for all the sporting events, he is down about 400 dollars. 

Zuniga says that even though it is costly, he is glad that he joined these teams because he gained a lot of experience, made friends, and was able to represent his school.

In addition to athletics, the LSE Spirit Squads also have pricey gear that they need to purchase to be able to participate.  Sophomore Alexis Swanson is a member of the Shirettes Dance Team and said it’s hard to say how much she has spent as there are so many different expenses. For example, members of the team have to buy poms, team shoes, uniforms, a jacket, and their backpack. Outside of that, they have to provide jazz shoes, if needed, and also have to pay for  lipstick and game day  hair and makeup supplies, spirit gifts, team dinners, team bonding activities and more. 

In spite of the costs, Swanson says it is worth it. “It helps you make new friendships and you connect with [your teammates] in different ways.”

Swanson believes a team is a large support group who can help you whenever you need it and being part of a sport helps bring you closer to your school and also show school spirit. 

Kendy Bham (9) is part of band, volleyball and Student Council. 

Bham says between buying T-shirts, paying $100 for the volleyball season and paying for other school activities, she thinks she has spent around $400 to $300. 

I love being a part of a band,  STUCO, and volleyball,” Bham said. She believes that you can gain friendships, as well as time management and partnership skills if you join a sport or a school activity.

Other obvious costs include the events that students can attend throughout their time in high school. Two include the formal events such as Homecoming and Prom.  According to article titled “High school prom are getting  extremely expensive” author Zachary Crokett writes that based on recent data (compiled by Visa in 2015), the average prom attendee spends $919 on tickets, dresses and tuxes, haircuts, shoes, jewelry, makeup, manicures, corsages, tanning, transportation and dinner. 

Crockett goes on to write that the average middle-income family spends $234k rasing a kid from 0 to 17. At the amount of $919, prom take away about 0.4% of that entire 17-year cost. 

The final formal event that is much more costly than one may imagine is graduation. Not only do students look forward to receiving their diploma, many also can’t wait for the celebrations. High school graduation parties have evolved into a celebration of accomplishment for many students. 

Owen Anthony (12) said he spent $114 for his cap and gown, but was okay with that cost. “I think that graduation is important because it illustrates your accomplishments and shows your progression.” As for the graduation party, Anthony thinks the cost spent $1000 on his graduation party.

High school is also a place where students can earn college credit through Advanced Placement class.

According to a US Today  article titled “How Much Does it Cost to Get Your Kid into College”, author Charisse Jones found that the SAT or the Act prep courses can cost up to $1,000. Jones also wrote that one-on-one coaching can range from $50 to $100 per hour and can be different according to what part of the country you live in.   

This time of year is stressful for many students, especially for those who are taking the Advanced Placement exams. 

In an article titled “How much does it cost to take the ACT in 2022” published on the website of tutoring company Soflu Tutors, author Becky Rosen writes that “if you want to register to take the ACT without the writing portion of the exam, it would cost $55. This test has English, math, reading and science sections”.

High school is also the time where many teenagers  learn how to drive and work up toward getting a Learner permit and then a driver license . 

According to an article from 4 Auto Insurance Quote’s website, author Rachel Bodline writes that “if you are trying to buy your own car insurance policy you should expect to pay between $7,600 and $9,000 per year for car insurance or about $630 to $750 per month”. 

In addition to insurance on a vehicle, students are also paying for gas to commute to and from school, along as well as events and activities. 

According to an article by the Sun Chronicle, Olivia Studley foudn that teengers use on average 143 gallons of gasoline per year. At current prices, about $3.50 per gallon, that costs teenagers $500  a year.

High school can be expensive, but there are many different resources for students to help them pay for different activities. One resource is the Fee Authorization Act, which allows fee waivers for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Fee waivers give qualifying students the right to not have to pay certain student fees and to be provided with specialized materials for equipment to participate in certain activities.

If you want more information about fee waivers, contact your school counselor.