04/30/2008 02:58 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Dark Side of Prom

Prom night can be anxiety ridden for many reasons - underage drinking, drugs, car accidents and, of course, all of the s-e-x. It's positively migraine inducing if you consider all of those things happening at once. (What? I'm sure it's been done.)

As a high school teacher, the part of prom I dreaded the most was having to watch all the freaking and grinding going on on the dance floor. But occasionally there was good pop-and-lock so I can't complain too much. Either way, unless you're a teacher, bad dancing probably isn't at the top of your worry list.


What you ought to be worried about - the real dark side of Prom - is the cost. Have you priced Prom lately? You could buy a year's worth of college text books and lab fees for what many students are dropping on one night that they'll probably look back on with a mixture of horror (I wore what?!) and condescension (I, like, knew totally nothing then. Unlike now.)

The New York Daily News, everyone's favorite source of sensationalist reporting, writes that the average teen spends about $1,000 on Prom night and all it's accoutrements. If the last time you went to Prom you were wearing a jeweled banana clip and doing the running man (and I'm not judging!), let me refresh your memory:
Dress: $350 - 900
Prom ticket: $80-100
Photo package: $15 if you get it done at the school (loser), $200 and up for a professional job
Shoes: $100
Hair & makeup: $80
Mani/pedi/wax: $25-100 (some girls are hairy, what can I say?)
Purse/Jewelry: $30-50
After-prom entertainment: $160
Transportation: $120

And that's just for the girls. If they're lucky enough to go with a date, the girl can expect him to shell out for dinner ($120), tux ($80, rental), corsage ($45) and limo ($200). If they decide to go stag, then hopefully they'll have enough friends to pitch in. Or at least forgo the bucket of blood.

One of my students summed it up best, "It's totally worth it. Didn't you see Gossip Girls? It's my one special night! And I'll never have another special night like this again!!" Well, at least not until Senior Prom next year.

PS> If you are looking to cut a few costs, check out the Duct Tape Scholarship Contest. It doesn't get any better than showing up to Prom in a gown made entirely of a substance that can both repair space shuttles and kill warts.