Achievement in sports was the No. 1 answer to the question, "How does one become 'popular' in high school?" when High Life surveyed 10% of the Huntington Beach High School student body.
Physical attractiveness was the second most common answer, with several students emphasizing the need to be "a hot babe" or "have a killer bod."
Involvement in extracurricular activities, such as holding a student body office or membership in a prestigious club, came in third.
Knowing a popular person was an answer often given, and wealth, expressed through stylish clothing and expensive cars, was of equal importance.
In the survey, the seniors placed less emphasis on popularity than the juniors, possibly because they are not as concerned about high school popularity as they are in associating with the adult world, where they are "at the bottom again," so to speak.
--Heather Reynolds, 17, senior, Huntington Beach
No matter where one is in the social stratosphere, the person has to decide who his true friends are. As if that isn't difficult enough, he then must not only determine if his friends are "cool" but also if they sincerely like him. If a person's friends fit these requisites, he is, in fact, popular. So even if a person doesn't fit into the high school version of the term "popular," many teen-agers may be surprised to find that they are popular in their own right.
--Chris Bergerud, 16, junior, Dana Hills
Students are noticed when they spend time involved in activities. An attractive personality can also lead to success. Prosperity also comes from showing a genuine interest in others and being sincere. Older siblings who are well-known can lend their success and reputation. Popularity on campus may take nothing more than a pretty face or an attractive body. An expensive car or fine clothes can create excitement and easily draw attention.
--Jason Pommier, 18, senior, Valencia
Here's a look at some of the individual responses to this week's Hot Topic: "How does one become 'popular' in high school?":
"There are too many cliques to really be popular. You can be well-liked, but there's not any such thing as a big man on campus at our school."
--Todd Layland, 16, junior
"Lots of people who are considered popular still aren't well-liked."
--Erin Redel, 15, sophomore
"I don't consider myself popular, but instead well-liked by my peers. I find myself trying to avoid becoming popular because it corrupts a person."
--Tami Gulzow (homecoming queen), 17, senior
"The more you ignore popularity and be a unique person, the more popular you are."
--Stephanie Schwartz, 17, senior
"Popularity is fine as long as it's not tried for. I don't think popularity seekers will find what they're looking for."
--Paul Cash (winter formal king), 17, senior
"If I knew, I would be popular."
--Anonymous 14-year-old freshman
"Compromise your beliefs."
--Anonymous 16-year-old junior
"By having a good personality and being yourself. If that doesn't work, you've got to be rich, good-looking and talkative."
--Anonymous 16-year-old junior
"You don't have to be a doll or a babe. There are a lot of OK-looking kids who are popular."
--Cory Oida, 16, junior
"Sure, kids still care about that (trendy clothes)--but that's not what matters the most anymore. You don't have to own the latest designer fashion to be popular."
--Andrea Anderson, 17, senior
Southern California Christian
"To be popular is to get involved in school activities, be spirited and involved in sports."
--Brandell Rodney, 15, sophomore
"Football players, cheerleaders--they're always popular. All the movies you see have the jock and the cheerleader in starring roles, and, of course, they're popular. So, people think that should be true in real life."
--Heather Mathews, 16, junior
Next Week's Hot Topic: What special privileges do seniors enjoy at your school?
Hot Topics was researched by Darcy Griffin, Ann Trinh, Cindy O'Hanlon, Joanna Brooks, Heather Reynolds, Mary Do, Chi Mai, and Jennifer Moulton.