A slippery slope: the variety of college acceptance posts

The myriad of posts that make up your Facebook news feed probably include tour announcements from your favorite bands, updates from the Princeton Public School page, blurry pictures of last weekend’s party, and, come springtime, statuses from seniors expressing a wide range of emotions about college decisions. There are the posts encouraging fellow peers to keep their heads held high despite the gut-wrenching feeling of rejection. When written by those who were rejected, they evoke a feeling of pity from the multitude of readers; when written by those who were already accepted into their incredible dream schools, they induce envy and annoyance. There are also the posts announcing the colleges to which people have committed, which are followed by long threads of comments involving many exclamation points. Then there are the posts with a litany of college acceptances by people whose egos should certainly be curtailed.

Sharing your excitement about the college to which you have committed is understandable—the hard work and stress of high school has paid off and a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You deserve the good wishes and congratulations from family and friends who are also excited for you to begin the next big phase in your life.

But while the celebratory “University of This, class of 2018!” is a type of post liked by the masses, Facebook posts that go beyond that, detailing multiple college acceptances or Instagram photos of color-enhanced acceptance letters that do not inform anyone of your future plans turn into boasting. Your Facebook audience gains nothing by finding out the number or caliber of colleges you were accepted into. While some juniors and underclassmen find it helpful to see which seniors were accepted into what colleges to see whether they could be accepted into those colleges, Naviance is a more useful tool for investigating this, as are colleges’ admissions pages, to see GPA, SAT, and ACT ranges.

Not only are these posts not helpful, but they also hurt seniors who applied to the same colleges and were not accepted. Seniors applying to colleges shape the past 17 or 18 years of their lives into a word-restricted, fill-in-the-boxes type format, not only including their academic achievements, but also revealing qualities of their character. For this reason, college rejections are very difficult to deal with; it feels as though the college is not rejecting you as an applicant, but also you as a person. Although it is widely recognized that decisions are often somewhat random, finding out the number of choices a peer has when your choices may be severely limited can be very disconcerting. Finding out that peers were accepted into the college of your dreams, and then chose to decline admission, or chose not to rescind their applications after being accepted into their favorite school early, can certainly sting.

Speaking of posts that sting, “you can do it”-rallying statuses from peers that encourage their friends to remain positive during these depressing times often have the opposite effect. Coming from people who have already received the eagerly-anticipated thick envelope, the post seems less earnest and slightly immodest. Although they are usually being genuine and sincere, these students may not understand what it feels like to see the “we regret to inform you …” and then experience the crushing feeling of despair. Thus, any attempt to sympathize with or appease their peers only makes them seem less than humble and conjures up feelings of resentment among the rejected.

On the other hand, posts from those whose mailboxes have still only seen thin envelopes (or short emails) of the unaccepted  often seem more sincere, since the person writing the post can actually relate to the situation of the unaccepted. They, too, must face either another round of applications or a decision that includes fewer options than they would have liked. Admittedly, these posts are often the cheesy sort of things you might find on a Hallmark “feel better” card or the lips of your grandmother. Like Panera’s famed macaroni, this cheesiness can console the wounded egos of the poster’s high school “friends” and is thus widely appreciated.

So, next time you scroll down your news feed and come across another college decision update, consider the effect it has on you, and whether your future statuses could cause others to experience similar feelings. To post, or not to post, that is the question.