10-Year Study Finds Cool Kids In School Tend To Have A Gloomy Future

10-Year Study Finds Cool Kids In School Tend To Have A Gloomy Future

There’s been a long-running notion that the “cool kid” in high school ends up not making much out of his adult life. Anyone who’s seen the Adam Sandler movie Billy Madison knows the exact type of person this idea focuses on: the popular guy who spent more time partying than he did studying. You know, the guy who skipped classes, and was celebrated by other like-minded individuals who looked up to him for his delinquent attitude. Most of us knew this person wouldn’t make much of himself. Now, science has proven it to be true. Joseph P. Allen, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, states these “fast-track kids” didn’t turn out alright, after all.

The Study

The study conducted by the University of Virginia followed 184 students, about 20% of which were classified as “risk-taking, socially precocious cool kids” for a decade, from the ages of 13 to 23. The study focused on teens who “sought out friends who were physically attractive; their romances were more numerous, emotionally intense and sexually exploring than those of their peers; and they dabbled in minor delinquency — skipping school, sneaking into movies, vandalism.” (A quick side note: Did anyone really ever think these actions were “cool?” What were we thinking in high school??)


What Happened

The study found that many of the “cool” kids grew up to be adults with alcohol and substance abuse problems. These guys and gals were more likely to have been in trouble with the law than those who weren’t considered so “cool” ten years earlier. In other words, they’re more likely to continue on the path they were on throughout high school. However, what may have been considered minor delinquency as a teenager is considered felonious as an adult, and has serious repercussions in the real world. Unfortunately for those “cool” kids who grew up too fast, the damage may have already been done.


Why it Happened

Scientists refer to the actions these “cool” kids took as teens as “pseudomaturity.” In an effort to get ahead of the crowd, these teens skipped over important life stages, such as building long-lasting, meaningful relationships, and building usable skills. Instead, they went right into promiscuity and binge-drinking. (That’s not to say that promiscuity and binge-drinking are ever acceptable, but these actions certainly are not acceptable when you’re not even old enough to drive). While most other 15-year-olds were catching movies with their friends, or honing their skills on the basketball court, these pseudomature individuals were wasting precious time joyriding and getting drunk and high with people they never really cared about anyway.


Fast-forward ten years, and while those who spent their high school years wisely have gone on to graduate level coursework, the people who were once the most popular kids in school now lack a proper foundation to get started in the real world. Instead, they find themselves delving into old, detrimental habits, such as binge-drinking and using drugs. Again, what was considered “partying” ten years earlier is what these former cool kids use to cope with their own inadequacy. Ironically, those who yearned to hang out with the older crew when they were 13-14 years old, in an effort to relive their glory days, end up wanting to hang out with the younger crew the older they get.

The Takeaway

In a rush to be loved, admired, and even envied by everyone else around them, many teens end up taking risks that have long-lasting consequences which they never even knew about. In their never-ending quest to impress everyone around them with their “coolness,” these kids ended up doing irreparable damage to their minds, bodies, and personalities. The teens who grew up too fast ultimately hit a wall within years of becoming an adult. Ironically, they never end up truly growing up at all.

Featured photo credit: Alcohol Poisoning PSA Video Shoot / Stop Alcohol Deaths, Inc. via


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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Let’s face it.  We are living in a digital age, and there is absolutely no turning back. One of the biggest influences on society these days is social media. It affects us both positively and negatively. Social media was originally designed for people to share interesting facets of their lives with their friends, but it has become so much more than what it intended to be. It is now a medium for information to pass around the globe. In many cases, people first learn about current events through Twitter or Facebook before hearing about them from conventional news sources.

We also rely on technology for nearly everything we do. People these days seem as if they can’t go anywhere or do anything without their smartphones, tablets, or laptops. They need to be in constant contact with others via electronic devices.

However, there is also a downside to be too connected to social media and electronic devices. We are too dependent on them, which make us oblivious to what we are doing to ourselves. Being too connected can have a negative effect on our lives and the society as a whole. Here are 9 true illustrations that show how our society is negatively impacted because of the use of technology.

1. Facebook is eating away at your time.

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    2. We’ve become “Likeaholics.”


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      3. Our electronics have priority over our lives.


        Given a choice between your dying phone battery or you dying, which will you choose? In this case, the man in this illustration chose to charge his phone over to sustain his own life. As a society, we need to be more careful of our priorities.


        4. Families aren’t spending quality time together.

        mother baking

          Here is a mother making holiday cookies, but what are the kids doing? They are not making cookies with their mother. Instead, every one of them has their faces buried in their own electronic devices. Television used to be what parents use to babysit their kids. Now, it’s a tablet, phone, laptop or video game that does the job.

          5.  We’d rather record someone than help them.


            A lot is happening in this illustration. A black man is drowning and asking for help. One person has a gun pointed at him. The other person has their iPhone pointed at him and is recording the scene, but is not interested to help this man.


            6. Society is sleeping, it’s sleeping its life away.

            sleeping your life away

              Time is money. After we have wasted the long period of time on social media, we are losing the most valuable currency we have – our time in this world.

              7.  Despite all the technology we have, we still want what someone else has.

              wanting what someone else is having

                There’s an old saying that goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” This illustration shows that despite all that we have, we are still not satisfied with our lives.


                8. Sensationalism still sells.

                free expression

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                  9. In the end, with all of this, we are still killing the planet.

                  gun to mother earth

                    This last illustration argues that despite all of our technological gains, we are still polluting the earth as if we have a virtual gun pointed at Mother Nature. As we build bigger cities and higher technology, how much more damages can we continue to do before putting our lives at risk?

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