The movies lied to us! It's not totally jocks vs. nerds when it comes to picking friends in school, your besties are most likely just the kids you sit near in class. According to a national study of 3,000 students at 78 high schools across the United States, found that the courses students take have a profound effect on the friendships they make. Plus, kids are less likely to judge classmates on things like race and gender — maybe because we're all in the same boat, rowing through the shit soup that is the high school experience.
"People generally want to think that kids are choosing their friends from the well-known categories like jocks and nerds — that it's like "The Breakfast Club" and the same at every school," said Kenneth Frank, lead on the study and professor in MSU's College of Education. "But our argument is that the opportunities an adolescent has to choose friends are guided by the courses the adolescent takes and the other students who take the courses with them."
This could be true for a couple of reasons. In high school you're often just desperate for a friend — any friend — and that might just mean the person with a similar last name. Also, as the study points out, if you're into woodworking and take a woodworking class, you'll probably meet other kids who are into woodworking and then be friends with them. This feels pretty basic to me — you become friends with the kids who have similar interests to you. That's kinda like adult life too, and probably the reason I'm still close to several of the theater nerd friends I made in high school. (Friends who do high school productions of Evita together, stay together.) (Mainly for survival.)
Interestingly, Frank also said that girls are more likely to take more demanding math classes if other girls in their shared sets of courses took advanced math. That rings so true, and it's also an accurate way to describe the issue of underrepresentation in adult life, too. If there aren't other women or people of color in your chosen field, it presents a barrier — a ceiling, if you will — that can often feel impossible to smash through.