Celebrate (don’t compare) senior college choices


Sonia Kharbanda

GO 2023. The senior decisions Instagram is a place to share good news. Students are able to submit their college decisions and engage with the community online.

With each new post on the Class of 2023 Instagram, a flood of likes, comments, and reposts for a college decision ensues. Scrolling through the public account, it’s difficult not to compare. There’s the typical social media negativity—who got the most likes and comments—plus a new perspective: who got into the “best” school? Upon liking, commenting, and reposting each other’s declarations, some admit to searching the school’s acceptance rates. With comparisons of “perfect” lives, bodies, and families abundant on social media, the same false image of perfection can be reflected through the account.

The connection between teenagers, social media, and mental health is clear. According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, 95% of teenagers have access to a phone, and 45% reported being on the internet “almost constantly.” The same survey found that YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat are the most-used social media platforms, with 72% of teenagers reportedly using Instagram.

The potential negativity of the college decisions account does not outweigh the outpouring of support it offers

Further, the Association for Psychological Science published a 2017 study reporting that teenagers with increased times on social media platforms had higher rates of depression.
With all the stress and range of emotions the admissions process creates, social media can exacerbate self-comparison. However, while social media can evidently worsen teenagers’ mental health, it can also foster connectivity and provide support if used correctly. At academically rigorous private schools where comparisons of grades and college admissions are frequent, the college decisions account offers a simple and positive forum for students to share their plans. Friends, lifelong classmates, and acquaintances alike can express admiration, and that support should not be minimized. Taking away the overwhelmingly positive influence of the account will not solve the issue of comparisons. Every student can find out their classmate’s post-graduation plans, with or without social media; just look at the pennant board.

The potential negativity of the college decisions account does not outweigh the outpouring of support it offers. Social media should be utilized in the admissions process as long as the accounts are used thoughtfully and positively. However, the support for senior decisions should continue beyond the Instagram posts; students must be supported in other community spaces for making the right choice for themselves.