The Sims 4 High School Years gave me the graduation I couldn't have in real life

The Sims 4 High School Years
(Image credit: EA)

For some, the thought of reliving high school sounds like a personal hell. Between the roller coaster ride of puberty, bullies, and homework, being a teenager can be rough. Despite all of this, some of our most important milestones occur while we're in high school. Attending events like prom or graduation can be rites of passage, important ceremonies that many students missed out on as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sims 4 High School Years expansion isn't just giving the residents of Copperdale the ability to live out key teenage experiences, but so many of us on the other side of the screen, too. 

The Sims has allowed us to achieve our wildest dreams and fantasies for over 20 years: being rich and famous, turning into a werewolf, or even something as mundane as going to high school. For me, being able to replicate teenage milestones through The Sims 4 gave me the opportunity to experience what lockdown took away, as I graduated in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. For anyone who didn't have their ideal high school experience, whether that be because of the pandemic or not, being able to live vicariously through our teenage Sims dancing the night away at prom or receiving their diploma on stage at graduation can mean a lot.

Class is in session 

The Sims 4 High School Years

(Image credit: EA)

The Sims 4 High School Years doesn't just allow your teen Sims to attend classes but lets them enjoy other stereotypical school activities, as well as explore their identities and relationships with each other. When school is in session your Sims can go to class, eat lunch in the cafeteria, practice cheerleading routines, join the football team, ask other Sims to prom with a promposal, and even get detention for skipping lessons. Plus, the pack actually allows your Sims to go to high school in person, a huge improvement compared to the base game where they vanish into thin air for the entire school day, and Discover University, where Sims disappear in front of a building to attend class.

The forest town of Copperdale also introduces a wide variety of after-school activities, whether your teen Sims prefer riding the Ferris wheel at Plumbite Pier or shaking up their style at the thrift shop. What's even more exciting about this expansion pack is the endless clothing and furniture options that are included. Being able to personalize your teen Sim's bedroom and style and decorate both the prom event and the high school itself gives you plenty of opportunities for customization. The Sims 4 High School Years is jam-packed with gameplay that encapsulates the cliché high school experience. 

These new features, while adding so much more depth to the teen life stage in-game, have also given me a taste of what my last year of high school could have been like in real life without lockdown's interference. My graduation was on a Zoom call, so I spent it wishing I could have the traditional experience of getting my diploma on stage in front of my friends and family. My prom was also canceled, which was the biggest letdown for me. Getting asked to prom, picking out a dress, and taking pictures with my friends or my date are all memories that I would have loved to be able to look back on. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Missing out on those core teenage moments really put a damper on my final year, and it's also affected the way I look back on high school now. 

The Sims 4 High School Years

(Image credit: EA)

"These new features have given me a taste of what my last year of high school could have been like in real life without lockdown's interference"

Playing with this expansion pack, however, made me feel like I finally got to experience it the way I wanted to. I modeled my Sim after myself, and she ended up winning the coveted title of Prom Royalty at the end of the night. I think it’s safe to say that would have never happened if I did end up having a prom in real life – I pretty much endured high school by playing games like The Sims and Animal Crossing to cope with the harsh reality of being unpopular. But that’s the whole point of games like The Sims. They give us the ability to escape the real world and play out any scenario our heart desires.

High School Years especially hits the mark in this respect, considering the fact that the pack offers the opportunity to replicate experiences that some never got to have, myself included. I will say, though, that the action of actually going to class was slightly disappointing. You aren’t given the option to choose your subjects and are unable to interact with the lesson. I would have liked to have seen my Sim take notes or doze off during class, and this aspect of the game lacks in comparison to The Sims 3 University Life, an expansion pack for The Sims 4’s predecessor in which these features were included.

In spite of a few lackluster gameplay elements, EA truly excelled in capturing fundamental teen moments with this expansion pack. Being able to recreate iconic teenage milestones in The Sims 4 ultimately gives you another chance at high school, even if it's only through the eyes of a Sim.

Wish we had these Sims 4 cheats for IRL high school...

Rosie Guenther
Freelance Writer

Rosie is a writer and avid gamer of 6 years; she is a particular fan of RPG games, playing mainly on Nintendo Switch and PC. She is currently working towards an undergraduate degree in English Literature and Creative Writing.