Party School Review

Charley Albert

For pretty much any high schooler, senior year is a very stressful time. At the beginning of twelfth grade, students are bombarded with questions about their future, college applications, and the SATs on top of their already-plentiful amounts of school work. Jon Hart’s new novel, Party School, does an exquisite job of capturing these pressures through the perspective of Dylan Mills, a recent high school graduate going off to college. He is leaving a town where school is extremely competitive and college is seen as the ultimate prize. 

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Party School tackles so many of the college-related issues that students face their senior year and in the beginning of their college experience. Dylan, who narrates the tale, has to navigate the dread and worry of leaving his family and friends behind. He endures an embarrassing issue that is all too common in his town: school shaming. Consequently, through his character, Dylan, Hart does an excellent job of capturing the insecurity and constant-scrutiny felt by all students applying to college.

As someone who will be off to college soon, I found myself deeply connecting with Dylan’s anxieties and experiences. Hart’s novel vindicated feelings I had about applying to and going off to college that I had never really expressed before. Reading this book made me realize that all my worries about college, despite the excitement of the future and starting anew, are probably shared by all my peers. 

Hart accurately illustrates the concerns students have surrounding the college application process, but in my opinion, that is not the central success of his novel. Through Party School Hart expresses a message that is extremely important for all high school students to hear: Where you go to college is not everything. Students have the opportunity to get a great education and create life-long connections at thousands of schools across the US. So, as long as you keep a positive attitude and use all the resources offered to you, you can prosper anywhere. 

To go even further, Hart communicates to his readers that college is not the end-all be-all. No matter what people say, life will go on wherever you choose to go to college, and even if you choose to go to college. So, yes, college feels all-consuming, especially during the end of your high school career, but it doesn’t define you. Thus, I believe that so many highschoolers, whether they are still thinking about if college is the best choice for them or if they have already been accepted into college, would benefit from reading this novel.