I was out on a run alongside a friend last year at the time her daughter was waiting to hear back on her college applications. My friend was lamenting the fact that Facebook was adding an extra layer of stress to the process. As my friend’s daughter anxiously awaited a yes or a no, students and parents of students were quite gleefully and publicly sharing their college acceptance successes. If those aligned with where my friend’s daughter was rejected or deferred, it only served to ratchet up the anxiety in my friend’s home.
The Facebook sharing was something that had never occurred to me as part of the application process. Now that I have a senior myself, I want to echo my friend’s sentiments—can we all just keep the acceptances off social media? At least until about May, when most kids have their plans ironed out?
While junior year gets all of the attention for heightened stress levels, I’d argue that senior year is worse. Kids are still in some cases taking standardized tests. Others are uncertain on where they want to apply. By about October, most are in the thick of writing essays, requesting transcripts and letters of recommendation, and trying to keep up their grades all at the same time. Add in a sport and/or job, as is the case with my kid, and you’ve got the recipe for some well-earned apprehension.
It doesn’t help that all the adults in the lives of seniors, from aunts and uncles to grandparents, neighbors, and everything in between asks them where they are applying and what they want to study. I can tell you my son—normally a personable chatterbox– is getting skillful at avoiding adults, just so he doesn’t have to cover this topic one more time.
In a matter of weeks, really, students who applied early action—mine included—will begin to hear back from their top choices. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking all at once. I’ll be here to help my son juggle the highs and lows that will inevitably accompany the process. But one thing I pledge not to do is post the acceptances to Facebook.
It’s just not helpful to anyone, especially not the students. In spite of all our asking, none of us really knows just what applications mean the most to which students. If there’s a parent of a senior in my Facebook network, I wouldn’t want to rub salt in new wounds should my child make it into a school that his or her child didn’t. I can say the same in the reverse—if my kid gave it his all to get into a top-choice school and didn’t, it might sting a little to see that another senior did, even if I am happy for that child.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t celebrate our childrens’ achievements—we should. But for the time being, we can do that at home or share the news in person with those closest to us. Those relatives who ask incessantly about the status of applications? They mean well and would love a phone call from you or your senior with the big news. Buy the grandparents a school sweatshirt if you want, but ask that they keep things on the low down for now.
In the meantime, let’s refrain from posting photos in front of the gates of our senior’s new school. Let’s leave the school logos off our profile pictures. Save the new bumper sticker for this summer.
For now, let’s give our kids this small gift of not publicizing on social media whether they did or didn’t make it into a school. This process is at this point in their lives, one of the most monumental they’ve experienced. It’s an opportunity for growth and maturation, but it’s also a potential minefield. I think avoiding big announcements to our entire social networks is the right move until later on in the year.
Once we’re all firmly past the spring notifications and kids have made their final decisions, then I say go for the social media share, if that’s your thing. By this stage in the game, we’ll be more focused on graduation dates, senior prom and pictures, and final family summer vacation plans. Rejections won’t carry the weight in May that they would have in December or March.
While I’m in no hurry for my son’s final year at home to pass by quickly, I do think both he and I will be happy when the stress of applications is behind him. Should my Facebook friends all manage to keep the big acceptance announcements off their pages in the meantime, it will be that much easier on everyone. That’s something we can all give a “like” to, don’t you think?
Amanda Loudin is an award-winning freelance writer with a focus on health and fitness. Her features, profiles, and essays appear regularly in the Washington Post, Outside magazine, ESPNW, Runner’s World and more. She stays integrated in her local community by writing general interest pieces for Her Mind, and dabbles in the occasional parenting essays and travel-based feature for various outlets. You can find her actively engaged on Twitter at www.twitter.com/misszippy1