Why do I dream of being back in school?

I had a dream the night before last that prominently featured a school that I went to as a child.  Since one of the questions I am most frequently asked is “why do I dream of being back in school,” I thought I’d share a term from my upcoming dream dictionary with you.

High school

Universal Landscape:  Passage from adolescence to adulthood.

Dreaming Lens:  How do you feel about being back in this time period?  Are you experiencing anxiety or nostalgia for days gone by?  Are you experiencing yourself as noticed or invisible; stuck or safe?  Are you with present-day friends, or your high school circle?

Personal Focus:  The primary symbolic meaning for this image is deeply connected to your own personal experience of this period in your life.  In a general sense, high school is where most of us learned life lessons of responsibility, sexual identity as well as where we built the foundation for the directions we took as grownups.  However, the overall experience of this turbulent time varies from person to person and can range from fun and joyous to excruciatingly painful.  When you dream of high school in a dream, your unconscious is expressing emotional issues that have their root at this time in your history.

As a common dream, most people experience this related to performance anxiety.  High school represents the first time as individuals that most people are faced with a level of responsibility that is most like what we deal with in the adult world.  When our current lives spark insecurity about our readiness to face life’s tests, we may express unconscious fears by returning unprepared to this time and suffer the humiliation of being lost, not knowing the schedule, not being ready for an exam, or even finding ourselves naked.

The lessons faced in adolescence were, for some, accompanied by mistakes being cleared up for us by parents or other authority figures.  As such, this dream image could indicate an unconscious wish to have the burden of adult responsibilities magically disappear as if someone else could handle them for us.
If the dream is uncomfortable, look to present stressors that may feel burdensome in the same way you felt as a teenager.  The pressure to perform at certain levels is a major theme of the high school experience.  This may be revealing issues of performance anxiety in your current life.  Inherent in this image is the fear of facing the expectations that others may have of you.  Examine your current life for issues of this nature and you will be well on your way to an accurate interpretation.

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71 Responses to Why do I dream of being back in school?

  1. Renee Robbins February 15, 2016 at 9:55 am #

    That’s just too weird Matthew Have almost the same exact dream! Failing 12 th grade..when I never failed a class. The feeling of hopelessness…I keep wondering in my dream why I am I still here? And that Geez I’m never gonna get out of here…I also can’t find my way to classes get lost and wake up before I ever find them…sometimes I will dream that I can’t remember locker combination..alot of similarities in our dreams..the weirdest to me that I too hated high school till around the 10th grade but that’s when I changed high school. This is crazy it’s almost like I wrote that post.. I have been having my dream for 20 plus years although not as frequent as of late…too too weird. I wonder if maybe we have had similar experience s in life or something..also I wonder how common it is for people to have such similar Dreams…

  2. Golden Phoenix March 1, 2016 at 4:43 pm #

    Why do I dream of getting a bad high school for failing my exams?

  3. Michelle March 24, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

    I usually always dream about myself in my elementary school. And its usually some bizarre dream with both people from present day as well as people who hated me in elementary 😀 no clue why tho.

  4. Isabella Curtis March 29, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

    I seem to dream this basic theme constantly. Sometimes my fellow students are from one of the two high schools I attended, sometimes they are people from my life now, or sometimes they are people I don’t know at all. But the one thing that stays the same is I don’t remember what class I am supposed to be in that period, and consequently miss that entire class. My “friends” in the dream all seem a little concerned, but I always shrug and say I’ll probably remember next time.

  5. nicole geist April 11, 2016 at 3:46 pm #

    very helpful.

  6. Adrienne May 4, 2016 at 9:51 am #

    I graduated in 2005. Over the last several years I’ve had recurring dreams where I’m forced to go back to school.. And in them, I’m always crying and saying how I already graduated and don’t want to go through hell again…(school was a very traumatizing time for me).. I really wish I knew what was causing me to have them cause I’m getting really sick of it..

  7. Marissa May 30, 2016 at 8:37 am #

    Adrienne emotions are linked to memories. Negative emotions have a stronger link to past memories which is why when we’re sad we tend to remember everything negative that has ever happened to us, significantly ones that are similar to what we are experiencing at present. Examine your present self and try to identify emotions or people with similar characteristics with the people or feelings you encountere in your high school. That’s probably why you’re dreaming of high school and repudiating the notion of going back because something similar is occuring now.

  8. Marissa May 30, 2016 at 8:44 am #

    James that one is pretty obvious and a part of my feela you already know the answer to that. You’re in a stagnant pond… you need to be on a flowing river, shift from your comfort zone and gravitate towards life. The present you going back to your high school means that your subconscious is aware that what you are doing is wrong, hence yout solitude and inability to keep up.

  9. Tania June 9, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    I’m 13 years old and school is over. So it’s basically summer. But almost every night I dream about the last day of 7th Grade and my crush is always there. My sister thinks Im crazy and weird. But I just want to know what it means.

  10. Tania June 9, 2016 at 5:51 pm #

    Hi I’m 13 years old and school is over. So it’s basically summer. 😄 But I constantly dream about the last day of 7th Grade. And my crush is there to but we never seem to talk to each other in my dream. My sister thinks I’m weird and crazy. But I just want to know what it means! 😁

  11. Brat June 18, 2016 at 7:21 am #

    😪I still dream about being popular in HS.

  12. Tcon. June 29, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    I have this dream frequently but reading through comments is really helping my figure it out.I didnt finish high school.I have a terrible communication/non existent with some of my children and most of the time yeah I wish it were some magic button I had to make it all disappear. High School had its ups and downs I was a teenage father and now my daughter hates my guts because of my lack of responsibility . In my dream im always avoiding her mother at school which brings on a feel of fear and anxiety. I think its time to leave that in the past and grip adulthood by the balls. The selfishness the ill take care of that tomorrow type of mind state. I never realized this whole time my dream was telling me its time to transcend. Be responsible for you. I cant fix my mistakes shelling up and hiding is not going to fix them either. Great post. Very informative. Peace and love to everyone . Hotep.

  13. Laura July 13, 2016 at 4:49 am #

    Hi I’m 13 and just finished S2 in Scotland (about two weeks ago) and yet I keep on drinking about either going to school and waiting outside for the bell which never comes because I wake up or I dream that I’m going home from school but in both of them I’m always worried about my little brother. By the way it’s my current school that I dream about. Usually when waiting for the bell there are three boys there and a teacher who I talk to. In both my mum calls me at some point and I have her old mobile in it. I’ve had these nearly every night can you please help.Also if it helps I ussually fall asleep pretty late around 11.30pm.

  14. Ifra August 18, 2016 at 3:01 am #

    I also have the same dreams over and over 😲

  15. Jay August 22, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

    This was a very helpful insight. Thank you.

    My re-occurring dreams range from being in high school and I have a schedule and classes that I cant seem to find. To, lately, back in college and Im getting my living situation in order at my apartment.

    Both situations are obviously anxiety related as pointed above. I think the recent college dreams are pointing to a time when I had limited responsibility. All I had to worry about was myself and a great time. I took college very seriously but it was when I had the most friends and most fun. Now that Im 40 with 3 children and aging parents that I am trying to manage some very recent issues, my subconscious is trying to go back there to that time.

    Though, near the end of the dream, I always realize my current age. I realize this isnt right that Im single, that its odd that I have no responsibility. I then feel awkward that Im 40 in college with a bunch of 20 year olds and spend the rest of my dream trying to understand why Im there. I chalk this up to my recent displeasure with dealing with my parents situation (no money, fighting for possible divorce, bankruptcy)

  16. Maya September 14, 2016 at 11:07 pm #

    I actually still don’t understand why I keep having same dream. My story is a little bit different than others whom left comments. Three reasons being, one is that my dreams usually are very vivid and 95 percent of the time occur somewhere down the line in my actual life. The second reason being is that I dropped out HS 8 years and got my GED due to numerous reasons. Last reason being is because I’ve been randomly having this dream for the past 4 years, same teachers, same school, same classes, same friends but completely different outcomes. I somewhat have an idea of what it all means, but not quite……

  17. Drew September 21, 2016 at 5:53 am #

    I always wondered if this was a common theme in dreams, as I tend to have one of these a few times a month. For me, these dreams usually fall into one of two categories:

    1.) I’m back in high school or college, but I feel like I’ve taken the classes many times before, like I was held back or failed previously or something. I’m not my current age (33), but still the other students all appear to be noticeably younger. The pressure is on me to do it right this time around, but there always seem to be distractions or “acts of god” getting in the way.
    2. ) I’m back in high school, usually it’s the first day of class, or the first day back after a break. The difference is that I have all the wisdom, expertise, and material possessions of someone much further along in their life. As a result I’m very popular around campus. In this version of the dream I tend to be much more of a rebel and a showoff than I ever was in real life (though I was always well-liked).

    Another odd thing is that I recognize my classmates, but the school is ALWAYS different and unrecognizable. However, I always figured this had to do with my anxiety about walking into unfamiliar situations.

  18. F October 16, 2016 at 7:52 am #

    I graduated in 1997. My school was pretty ghetto, riots and stuff like that. My senior year I was on the football team, practiced EVERYDAY, (even broke my hand,) with the understanding that I wouldn’t get to play because my grades were bad. I was supposed to be the starting guard/d.tackle. My team depended on me. I let my teammates, coaches, my parents and myself down. I picked my grades up, and I thought I’d play the last two games. Didn’t happen. So for about thirteen years after I graduated, I had been having recurring dreams of high school. In my dream I’m walking down the hallways of my HS, and it’s empty. Everyone is out at a football rally, and I’m walking the halls by myself, with a sad song playing in the background. And everytime I’d wake up I’d feel depressed and sad because I left so much potential in high school. I’d feel sick to my stomach and sad for the first few hours. I also lost contact with all my good friends. We went down different paths in life. Some ended up in rehab, prison, or dead. For the grace of God and my family, I turned out pretty well. I stopped having those dreams about five years ago, after I accomplished my childhood dream of becoming a pilot. Sometimes I look back and wonder about not getting to play. It was a tough lesson, one that I’ve never forgotten. So, if you’re having similar dreams, you better get on the ball and go at life with everything you have. Becoming a pilot was my second chance at living up to my expectations. I wouldn’t trade that for anything, even a senior year of football.

  19. hir am October 21, 2016 at 9:44 am #

    For some odd reason when I have to urinate i dream about school, and being in the school restrooms. But never actally wetting myself, i just dream about urinating in the urinals at school. I had these dreams a couple times and I do not know why me needing to urinate connects to my high schools days. I graduated in 2015 I don’t know seems very random

  20. J November 22, 2016 at 5:29 pm #

    Had a dream i was back in highschool and we were going on a class field trip. I saw a lot of people i hadnt seen in a while but the weird thing is the people i lnew or of had contact with were theyre older selves. I knew i shouldnt be their and went to leave which lead to a argument with a teacher. It was bizare and also so real at the same point of time. Any idea what this dream meant.

  21. Rob December 6, 2016 at 6:53 am #

    This has been a constant dream of me being in high school I remember walking in the school halls and restroom schools rooms by number and classrooms with the same people I went to school with but much older in appearance