For weeks, only one topic has occupied the minds, and unfortunately the mouths, of the senior class. With acceptances, deferrals and rejections streaming in from colleges, chatter about where our peers are going has risen to a fever pitch.
It’s natural that this talk arises, and that it can often leave people with hurt feelings.
Not everyone is going to go to their first-choice school, and attempting to leave this tumultuous period without upsetting someone seems like trying to navigate an army across a minefield without hearing a single boom.
It’s important to use common sense in deciding whether or not making that celebratory post or wearing that crewneck is really necessary or worth it in a time when so many of your classmates and friends feel vulnerable and upset.
However, there’s no scenario in which accruing and then disseminating information about where people are applying to college, their GPAs and legacy statuses promotes any sense of community among our already competitive student body. Sure, some of us compile mental lists of people that we know are applying to our top choice, but the list containing more than 150 students’ names and early application schools should never have been externalized.
It’s crucial, though, not to condemn one person’s actions as wrong before you consider that you may have been doing something similar all along.
Making a list is obviously neither an Honor Code violation nor an affront to our moral character as a class, but it certainly lacks the sensitivity that we’d hope to have as a community in a time of widespread anxiety. Besides the list’s creator, though, each student who forwarded the list bears the burden of responsibility for spreading information that was personal and at times incorrect. Forwarding this kind of gossip, which is often outright speculative or misleading, is irresponsible and just as offensive as creating the list in the first place.
The actions of the senior class are, in reality, a manifestation and an indication of a larger problem. The fervor surrounding the college applications process and the contents of those emails or envelopes has reached a degree of hostility that is untenable if we want to foster any true sense of community among a class of people sharing its last six months as any sort of formal group.
Our class in particular has been described by deans as nosy, uptight and sensitive with regard to college competition. We’ve also had an exceptionally talented class academically, as we have often required additional sections of AP and honors classes that other years did not need, and our sports teams and other school organizations have achieved success under the current senior class. Where we could use some improvement is in our empathy for our classmates.
We had an opportunity to be a stellar class in almost every way, and we may have squandered it by feeding into the growing problem of vicious competition extending beyond trying to achieve the most you can through hard work and ambitious pursuit. This problem extends far beyond the events of the past few weeks or a list of names and colleges; we as peers and friends need to learn that while we are inherently competitive with one another, we need to respect each other above all else.
This means perhaps not boasting about your acceptance next to people who got rejected from their dream school, and also trying your best to be happy if someone who absolutely couldn’t contain his or her excitement posts on Facebook about where he or she’s going to school. We all know we’ll end up at good schools and most of us will have great experiences at our colleges, so for now let’s try to be as supportive and respectful as possible.