22 Songs for Your Back-to-School Playlist

22 Songs for Your Back-to-School Playlist


Okay, we know it’s still summer, but it won’t be too long until people have to head back to school. And whether you’re dreading having to waking up early, or are excited to hit the ground running, there is a song for your back-to-school mood. From classics, to newer hits, to a very appropriate musical, there are actually a lot of songs that can get you pumped to hit campus (or Zoom, whatever you’ve got going on).

Heading back for your final year of high school? Starting college? Just reminiscing about the good old days… no matter how long ago they were? Below you’ll find 22 songs that will help you through it all.

“… Baby One More Time” – Britney Spears

No, this song isn’t directly about school, but the music video iconically takes place in one.

“Follow Your Arrow” – Kacey Musgraves

“Education” – The Kinks

The name of this song is literally education. What more do you want?

“I’m Just a Kid” – Simple Plan

If you’re dreading going back to school and resent not being able to make your own decisions, this one’s for you.

“(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” – Beastie Boys

The first line of this Beastie Boys classic is: “You wake up late for school, man, you don’t wanna go.” It has to make the list.

“You Belong with Me” – Taylor Swift

This early T. Swift song is about how a guy at school should be with her because she’s the one who really knows him. Whether you consider yourself a “cheer captain” or “on the bleachers,” it’s fun to sing along with.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” – Ramones

You don’t actually have to “hate the teachers and the principal” to get this repetitive Ramones song stuck in your head.

“Run The World (Girls)” – Beyoncé

If you need to get hype for heading back to school—or doing pretty much anything—Beyoncé can help. She even “raises a glass” to college grads in the lyrics.

“We Are Young” – fun. feat. Janelle Monáe

The dramatic chorus earns this song a spot on the list: “Tonight, we are young/So let’s set the world on fire/We can burn brighter than the sun.” Worthy of singing loudly with your friends.

“Campus” – Vampire Weekend

It’s about a literal college campus. What more do you want?

“When We Were Young” – Adele

Adele reminisces about a past relationship in this song, but it can apply to a variety of school situations, like starting your last year, running into an ex after the summer, or just feeling some general “getting older” feelings.

“Kids in America” – Kim Wilde

A song from 1981 that was featured in Clueless in 1995, it still works for anyone excited about the changes their generation is going to make today.

“Girl on Fire” – Alicia Keys

Have confidence! Reach your goals! Be a girl on fire! It’s what Alicia would want.

“Good as Hell” – Lizzo

“Good as Hell” is about being confident after leaving an ex, but it works for any situation where you need a boost. Coming back after a rough previous school year? “Take a deep breath, time to focus on you.”

“Graduation (Friends Forever)” – Vitamin C

Vitamin C landed herself a classic when she released a pop song specifically about graduating back in ’99.

“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” – Green Day

Less specific, but still a classic for graduating seniors, Green Day’s “Good Riddance” reminds you to “take the photographs and still frames in your mind.”

“What I Go to School For” – Jonas Brothers

This 2006 song from the Jonas Brothers is about a freshman who has a crush on a senior. It’s actually a more innocent cover of a song by the band Busted, about a student who stalks and then runs off with a teacher. So yeah, stick with the Jo Bros version!

“School Days” – The Runaways

A song with the lyrics “hated class only lived for fun” is perfect for days when you really aren’t feeling school.

“We’re All in This Together” from High School Musical

And now to go waaaaay to the other end of the spectrum. Since there’s a musical about being in high school, the songs from it obviously apply.

“Tennis Court” – Lorde

Lorde’s written a ton of songs about young adult life. “Tennis Court” in particular mentions “class clowns,” “beauty queens,” and teens hanging out down at the tennis courts.

“Good Morning” – Kanye West

The opener to Kanye’s Graduation album shares some more critical thoughts about the school system, as well as his own experience with being an up-and-coming producer and rapper.

“School’s Out” – Alice Cooper

For anyone who’s really not ready to go back.

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