People Are Revealing Who Their High School’s “Smartest Kid” Turned Out To Be (35 Stories)
Long gone are the days when you have to go to reunions to learn what your former classmates are up to. All you need now is social media. Just log into Facebook, Instagram, or some other platform they're on and stalk away. Many share so much of their personal lives that it makes it quite easy.
So when Reddit user Desperate_Bluejay330 asked people "What happened to the smartest kid at your high school?", the replies immediately started pouring in, reminding us that you never really know what the future holds.
Continue scrolling to check out some of the most interesting stories, and don't miss the talk we had about looking back at your past with licensed clinical psychologist, Michael Stein, Psy.D.
He does some kind of morbidity projections for a hospital in a major city in Europe. The reason I know this is because in April or May of 2020, he posted on Facebook asking someone to call him because he was afraid he was going to hurt himself. I literally hadn’t talked to this guy since probably 5th grade (we went to the same elementary school and then different middle schools. When we got to high school, he had skipped two grades. We weren’t really friends in high school). It was 9 or 10 at night where I live so probably about 4 am where he lived. It was late, and I was worried nobody would see his post. I couldn’t have lived with myself if he had done something and I hadn’t called. So I called him using Facebook messenger. He was drunk and thinking about jumping off his balcony. His whole job was predicting covid deaths, and the numbers he was coming up with were terrifyingly high (and accurate), but nobody was listening to him. We talked for a long time. We both cried some. It was the weirdest thing - I literally talked him off a ledge. He didn’t jump, and now he seems to be doing great. He quit drinking, got back into running, and got through the pandemic. I think of him often, which is weird considering we were never really what you’d call friends.
Stein, who runs a team of therapists in Colorado called Anxiety Solutions of Denver, thinks the main motivation that drives us to check up on our past acquaintances is simply comparison.
"People love to compare their own accomplishments to those of others, for better or worse," he told Bored Panda. "That's not necessarily a healthy thing, but it's something a lot of people feel compelled to do. It can feel good to know that your career or relationship status compares favorably to others, but of course that can run the other way as well; it can hurt to see that you have not progressed in life as much as your peers."
"I think the other biggest reason though is just curiosity. People have their set impressions of what their classmates were like in high school and they're curious to know if those classmates turned out how they thought they would. And then a final reason I would say is gossip! People love talking about people, and it can be entertaining to share what you found out, especially if you find something funny about a former acquaintance," Stein explained.
He became an astronaut, a doctor, AND a Navy seal. And was even nice in high school. Disgusting.
The psychologist believes that high school can be a precursor for someone's adult life, but that's not always the case.
"By high school, you are likely to have a pretty good idea of a person's academic achievement, and high academic achievement in high school tends to lead to high academic achievement after it, but in terms of a person's personality, that is definitely not set in stone by high school. Personality tends to solidify in our mid-20s, so there is a lot of room for people to change from who they were in high school."
I graduated in a class of 18 people (Edit).
I was co-Valedictorian. Thanks to social media and my mother sending me the local paper for years, I can tell you what happened to all of them:
Two are dead. Three are in jail, including my co-Valedictorian (child molestation). Three work in healthcare (RNs and radiologists, etc). One is a FEMA inspector (she’s in Kissimmee right now). Two work for the Cherokee Nation. One is a roofer. One has been fired as a jail guard (violence toward inmates) and kicked out of a church as pastor for embezzlement. One is a high school basketball coach. One is an openly gay cop in Austin, which I find fascinating considering where we came from. Two are meth heads who dropped off the map.
And I got college scholarships, left my shitty town for an English degree and the promise of the Great American Novel. Instead I became a college advisor, married a college professor, had a great kid later in life, and then semi-retired last year to be the single cook at my son’s small private school. Today I made Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas with a roasted tomatillo sauce from scratch. Truly living my best life. #Classof88
Valedictorian with perfect SAT. Kind, approachable and funny. Everyone assumed he would want to go into law or become a doctor. Instead learned traditional dance and joined a well respected dance troupe performing at cultural events and weddings. Was honored to have them perform at my wedding. Still an amazing human as far as I know.
Some predictions, however, are possible. For example, when researchers from the University of Virginia looked at a community sample of 169 adolescents over 10 years (from the time they were age 15 to when they were 25), they found that teen friendships (or the lack of them) may directly impact their long-term mental and emotional health.
"High school students with higher-quality best friendships tended to improve in several aspects of mental health over time, while teens who were popular among their peers during high school may be more prone to social anxiety later in life," said Rachel K. Narr, a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology, who led the study.
She graduated from college, got married, had 5 kids, and homeschools now. She and her husband lived way below their means, saved every penny, invested in trailer parks, and retired early. She goes on cruises twice a year and makes a mean homebrew in her basement. She is me. Thanks for asking!
He took 6 years to finish college and graduated with a chemical dependency problem that took another 6 years to get over. He has a low key job now and is reliable, if unremarkable. Some would say he never realized his potential, but he's content and doesn't really care what people say.
Interestingly, neither having a strong best friendship nor being more popular predicted short-term changes in mental health; these differences only became apparent later and they appeared regardless of the youth's experiences in the interim.
"Our study affirms that forming strong close friendships is likely one of the most critical pieces of the teenage social experience," Joseph Allen, Hugh P. Kelly Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, who co-authored the study, added. "Being well-liked by a large group of people cannot take the place of forging deep, supportive friendships. And these experiences stay with us, over and above what happens later. As technology makes it increasingly easy to build a social network of superficial friends, focusing time and attention on cultivating close connections with a few individuals should be a priority."
Four years after high school graduation, he was driving back to Yale from spring break, weeks from graduating with highest honors, and then starting a Rhodes scholarship, when his car was hit head-on by a truck. He was killed instantly. We all believed he would be the first African American president of the U.S.
He was actually quite overweight. When he left for college, he was studying physics. Couple of years later, I learned that he lost 175 pounds, became super into fitness, dropped out of college and became a gym trainer.
Our former classmates aren't the only people from our past we like to keep tabs on. How many times have you "accidentally" looked up your ex?
"These are obviously people that you've had a strong emotional attachment to and the obvious question people want the answer to is whether they found someone new," Dr. Stein said.
"Again, it's that comparison thing: for better or worse, people want to know if past relationship partners have moved on to someone else, what that person is like, and in general see how they are doing in life. I don't think there are many people who haven't looked up past partners online!"
Quick, someone ask Redditors about this topic!
Not my class, like 15 years after I graduated. I visited my hs to see an old teacher who was retiring. While talking to the principle he tells me about this student who was legit one of the most brilliant students the school had had in decades. He wanted to be a chef. (I am one). Cut to the graduation and he is due to give his speech.
The one they approved was totally dropped. He gave a scathing tirade against all the teachers for not supporting him and kept pushing him to not follow his dreams and to just go to regular college. I heard it was brutal.
(Kid had a scholarship to several top culinary programs already, his family owned a successful restaurant).
He is a happy chef. His family doesn’t support the school anymore.
My years smart folks are all married and grandparents by now.
Became a doctor, decided it wasnt for her and went to law school. Is currently a barrister as far as I know.
He had a offer to work on a nuclear submarine I s**t you not. But he failed the drug test.
The last person he smoked with. Me.
I felt horrible.
My best friend was arguably the smartest kid in my school, or one of the smartest. Had a lot of inner demons, passed away young because of those inner demons.
He dropped out if uni and became a bartender. Made fun of me and bullied me because i was failing at math and science in hs. Now I have an engineering degree and last I saw him, he was still living with his parents.
He went on to study Business and Chinese and now he's a businessman in China
I still talk to him. He's a good friend of mine, still. He's an engineer at Google now. I am not.
She went to college, got her Master's degree, started medical school, got pregnant and has been a stay at home Mom for 20 years.
I was friends with the guy who had the 2nd highest GPA in our class. He created a business renting out and managing office equipment. I lost touch with him, but I just Google his business. It's still open, and he's still the owner, after 15-20 years. Glassdoor says it's worth 5 to 25 million USD.
I was the smartest in my school, I am now in university and have become the depressed average student with no skills or social life.
Went to West Point. Knocked up his girlfriend his junior year, so automatically disqualified from attending (you couldn't have dependents and attend a military academy at the time, not sure if that is still true). Married the girl, got divorced a couple of years later.
Enlisted in the Army to fulfill his service obligation, finally became an officer in his early 30s and is now flying blackhawks. Got remarried and has two kids with the new wife. Seems genuinely happy.
The one older than me went to MIT and then Stanford. He’s doing something tech related in Silicon Valley or something like that.
The one younger than me (and I never knew he was this smart) wound up at Harvard Medical and then was a Fulbright Scholar. He’s a doctor in New England somewhere and his wife is also a Harvard doctor.
Has 6 kids to 5 different fathers & is currently being investigated for massive benefit fraud.
He went to college and double majored in business and biomechanical engineering at a very good school. Graduated, and is apparently doing research for some big company. Dude is smart as f**k.
Last I saw our class valedictorian, 40 years ago - when we were about 21, he bragged about he and a couple of friends breaking into a logging company's powder shack to steal the explosives. He was disappointed that they failed to ignite under the bridge they had selected.
It is very depressing to know that I'm stupider than him.
After graduation at our high school, he did four years of University, I went to his wedding right after University Graduation. She was probably the smartest girl at our high School. Got a job with Lockheed Martin real quick. Nobody has seen him since. I could see him in a top secret government lab inventing anti gravity flight. Whenever I hear about a UFO sighting, I say “ Oh that’s just Bill”
He lives in the same small village he was living in when we were in school, is married with kids and apparently works in an office in the nearest town. He had aspirations of becoming a surgeon when we were in school, it didn't happen, but it sounds like he's living a good life regardless
He was my investment advisor. I wasn’t overly impressed with him but I trusted him. We are all retired now.
He barely graduated due to giving up on public school, joined the army for one term to get out of his rural improvised town. He struggled for 15+ years to make ends meet and at his mid 40s is finally buying a house and is on track to retire at 55.
Being the smartest out of a class of 100 isn't that exceptional.
She got her Ph.D in Chemistry from Harvard and is now Dean of the Science Department at our local state university, of about 20k students. Went to a high school in a town of about 4,500 people. Still see her occasionally.
Completely fell off the radar. I assume he's running some sort of nefarious thinktank for a huge tech company or something.
The smartest kid: Went to an esteemed Aerospace university but had to move back home due to medical issues. No idea what happened to him there.
The valedictorian (smartest on paper): Works as an OBGYN in upstate New York.
The most successful: A musical tiktok star with 12 million followers.
So the valedictorian is a dentist. The person I believe is the actual smartest person (I think she was 3rd in our class) is getting her PhD in physics of some sort.
Professor at Cambridge University
Male: Got a 4.0 from a top public university, studied Financial Mathematics, became a quantitative Trader
Female: Graduated Summa Cum Laude from an Ivy and is now in Medical School
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