‘Go here if you want depression!’: the bleak, funny world of Google school reviews | Education
It all started because Willow was going back to school. The 17-year-old American was complaining about the new school year, when a friend struck upon an idea. Why not check Google for reviews of their schools? “Go here if you want depression!” read the first one-star review they stumbled upon.
Willow immediately tweeted her findings, encouraging others to look up their own schools and share theirs. The replies came thick and fast. One reviewer’s school is “completely trash”, another has “terrible and inedible” food. One four-star review simply notes: “The kids are really odd here.”
“As a high-school student it was funny to see so many people complaining about the schools we go to, considering a lot of the complaints are accurate,” Willow says now. “It seems like everyone just wanted to let out everything they found annoying about their high school – the things that adults don’t really notice.
“Since most of them were from high schoolers around our age there were a lot of complaints about student behaviour and bad teachers.”
It is a similar story when I search for my own former secondary school. “I highly recommend not sending your innocent children here,” a woman named Kirsty remarks. Another user, who has chosen the name “chicken nuggets”, laments that there is no option to give zero stars, writing: “The students are not aloud [sic] to make there [sic] own decisions and are forced to do subjects they hate and that have no use in life.” Compellingly, another one-star reviewer simply writes: “No.”
When it comes to reviews of private schools, old rivalries may be at play. Eton college has review after review noting that Harrow school is superior, while Harrow itself is damned by one reviewer as “a scumy [sic] school for Eton rejects”. If these reviews have indeed been written by their rivals, then the spelling leaves the reader questioning whether either school is worth its fees.
One comment about Eton is especially damning. “Terrible school which creates bad prime ministers,” writes one man, leaving behind a single star.