College Reveal Parties Are A Thing And We Have Feelings

College reveal parties are a thing.

Yes, you read that correctly.

“This can’t be. Who in the world would actually do this?” or are you thinking, “Hmm…that sounds kinda fun. I know just where to buy the perfect colored balloons.”

It’s not really all that surprising that college reveal parties are now something that teens are asking for and parents are agreeing to. It’s a logical jump from the gender reveal parties that have existed for years. You’ve either been to one of those or seen pictures of them on social media.

College reveal parties are a thing.
College reveal parties are a thing now. Yes, you read that correctly. (supirak jaisan/Shutterstock)

During gender reveal parties, the festivities range from simple cakes with a pink or blue interior that are exposed upon cutting or balloons that rise up out of a decorative box. Some parents bump up the Wow! Meter to fireworks that burst in the sky with the telltale boy or girl color. (In Arizona last year, an expectant Dad accidentally sparked a wildfire that burned nearly 47,000 acres and cost over $8 million in damage as the result of a gender reveal gone wrong. Good times.)

So, high school seniors have jumped on the party bandwagon as well. Over the past few years, when it comes to college announcements, we’ve moved from simple social media posts, from both kids and parents, to the perfectly crafted Instagram picture of the student sitting on their bed, completely decked out in their new college gear and surrounded by balloons, school mascot stuffed animals, pennants, more gear (gifted from friends), and that glossy acceptance banner.

Therefore, the “extra” among us, have taken it to another level and turned this once private celebration into a Pinterest-worthy extravaganza. And in our social media driven culture today, this fact has been embraced by a lot of people, not just the excited students and their parents.

As with any other celebratory event in our lives, college reveal parties are a chance for businesses to make more money. Party product stores, bakeries, photographers, Etsy creators, and the colleges themselves all find this the perfect opportunity to advertise their brand and increase sales.

It’s hard not to admit that those college-colored cake pops are actually adorable, and that table display with hand-painted letters is very clever. If someone can afford to go over-the-top for this event – that is obviously important to them – who are we to roll our eyes and share that we think it’s just ridiculous?

With all the stress and uncertainty we face in our lives, can’t we all just agree with Fergie that, “A little party never killed nobody?”

But it’s also easy to acknowledge that this trend is yet another opportunity for people to be a tad insensitive. First of all, the indulgence of a college reveal party that is posted online is another in-your-face example of the disparity between the Haves and the Have Nots.

Some students are lucky enough to get into the college of their choice. And I use the word “luck” very deliberately. With the ultra-competitive college admissions process today, at many of the schools that receive thousands of more applicants than they can admit, ability will only get you so far. It’s a lottery situation and if your kid gets accepted, they are simply lucky.

What about those kids that are not thrilled with the choice they are left with?

And many of us can’t even afford the myriad of costs that are involved with sending a kid to college, even if it is in state, or they’ve managed to get some sort of scholarship. American families take on billions of dollars in debt for students to complete higher education degrees. Not all of us have discretionary cash lying around to throw a college reveal party.

What about those kids who have to pay out of their own pockets for every college class that they take?

In addition, it’s become entirely clear that college is not the right path for every kid who finishes high school. Many young people start trade schools, join the military, enter directly into the work force, or find themselves just not ready yet, due to physical or mental health challenges, to move forward with college.

What about those kids who aren’t facing a decision between two or three different universities?

And what about basic party logistics? Who actually has the time to make all these decisions about invitations, decorations, and food? We have taxes to do, laundry to wash, and actual graduation parties to start planning!

Are the college reveal party givers doing this ALL OVER AGAIN in a couple of months? And is anyone buying another gift for that kid?

So, should these reveal parties just go away? If a family wants to make a big deal out of this decision, can’t this be done in private with only other family and close friends around, or should your entire social network be subjected to seeing the 25 Pinterest-perfect, confetti-sprinkled photos of your celebration?

Can we please see some “I’m choosing the Coast Guard over enlisting in the Navy” parties? Or video of a kid opening a large box to have “I’ve decided to become a plumber” balloons floating up over an expectant crowd?

Should these big reveals be solely reserved for the Division One athletes on ESPN who will be making millions of dollars in a couple of years?

As proud parents, do you take the quieter, less expensive, and way-less-complicated road, or do you shout it from the rooftops that you have a wonderful reason to rejoice about something?

This world is full of all kinds of people. Those who are mindful of how their public displays come across to people in all sorts of situations, and those who shrug and say, “Haters gonna hate.”  Is there a right or wrong here?

Yay or Nay to the college reveal parties?


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About Marybeth Bock

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing - as long as iced coffee is involved. You can find her work on numerous websites and in two books. Find her on Facebook and Instagram

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