Dani Mirell ’17 opened the portal to the University of Michigan website hesitantly. She knew she loved the school, but she told herself she would be okay if she didn’t get in.
Marlborough student Lily Goldsmith ’17 opened her email inbox and searched for the email from the University of Pennsylvania. She anxiously clicked the link.
“Congratulations and welcome to the Class of 2021,” both students read.
Both Mirell and Goldsmith said that their immediate reaction was excitement, but Goldsmith decided to make the announcement public via social media two days after finding out while Mirell waited to post the news.
Mirell was accepted in the Early Action pool in December but was not immediately set on attending. Worried people would think she was showboating and being insensitive to her peers who had not yet been accepted into college, Mirell said she waited until spring to post when most other students had already heard back from schools.
Mirell said she would have to waited to post on social media about her acceptance even if she had been positive that she would go to Ann Arbor in the fall.
“I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of those who didn’t get in or pressure other people who were waiting for regular decisions,” she said.
While Harvard-Westlake students like Mirell might be more hesitant to post about their college decisions on social media, students at other high schools in Los Angeles said they don’t feel that it is necessary to spend time contemplating whether or not to post.
According to an April Chronicle poll of 421 students, 75 percent believe Harvard-Westlake students are more sensitive about posting about colleges on social media than students at other high schools.
While Mirell said that her decision to post required a significant amount of deliberation, Goldsmith had no reservations about posting.
“It’s really common for people [at Marlborough] to post as soon as they decide,” Goldsmith said. “At Marlborough, there isn’t really any pressure to wait or to post, so it really comes down to what you want to do. Most of the people who [got in] early decision posted around that time, and same for regular.”
Eden Burkow ’17, a student at the Buckley School, said that posting college decisions is the norm at her school.
“Basically every senior posts where they are attending college,” Burkow said. “It is the one thing that we all have in common, that we are excited about doing and have looked forward to doing for a while now. They post on all different platforms of social media from photos and changing bios on Instagram to statuses and pictures on Facebook, or even various Snapchats here and there. The seniors at the Buckley School definitely post their ‘end-all-be-all’ university online.”
She said although almost every student posts where they will be attending college, they are still considerate of others’ feelings.
“We are a very sensitive environment and acknowledge those that don’t get into the same schools as those who do,” Burkow said. “We definitely are able to have a conversation about college and feel safe having that conversation and being personal about ourselves.”
Similarly, Kyra Terenzio ’18, a student at Marlborough School, said most students, especially students who are accepted Early Decision, decide to post on social media, unlike Harvard-Westlake students who often decide to wait to post or not post at all.
“It’s highly coveted to commit early decision at Marlborough just because usually those who get in are getting into her first choice school, which is usually a highly competitive school, and secondly, it’s obviously a major relief to be done,” Terenzio said. “Therefore, when girls do get in early decision, they usually post about it on social media, and it’s considered very normal, and very infrequently is it considered obnoxious or insensitive.”
According to the Chronicle poll, 27 percent think Early Decision admits at Harvard-Westlake should wait until spring decisions are released to post. The school has no official policy regarding social media posts. However, they advise students to be considerate of others during the college process.
“Because students do a lot of their communicating on social media, I think it’s appropriate for students to post when they have decided where to attend,” Upper School Deans Department Head Beth Slattery said. “I don’t think it’s necessary to post all their decisions, but I can understand wanting to let people know where you’ve decided to attend.”
Like students who are admitted early decision, athletes often commit to colleges earlier than their peers. However, some said athletes face less criticism for posting early.
“In all honesty, I don’t think anyone should post about where they’re going to college whether or not they get in early, but since athletes find out about admissions earlier than everyone else does, they’re not hurting the feelings of others who have been rejected from certain schools,” Kyra Rosen ’18 said. “In that sense, I think people see it as more socially acceptable.”
Varsity athlete Hunter* committed to play to a school the summer going into junior year, but has yet to post about his decision on social media and still feels uncomfortable publicizing the information with people besides his close family and friends.
“With the college process around the corner, I didn’t really want to make people upset or jealous about my process being accelerated and much less stressful,” he said. “Harvard-Westlake is a super competitive place, and people sometimes get upset that athletics give kids an advantage in the admission process. Nonetheless, all my friends know and everyone who knows has been super happy and supportive, but I didn’t feel compelled to post anything on social media because I knew that people I wanted to know immediately would know without me having to broadcast it.”
Soccer player Bridget Stokdyk ’18 committed to play at Brown University during her junior year and decided to post about her decision on Instagram after being encouraged to do so by her teammates, some of whom had posted about committing. She was tentative to post at first, fearing negative feedback, but was ultimately pleased with the reaction.
“It was a milestone in my life,” Stokdyk said. “But I do think there are some ups and downs with it, like coming off as pretentious, which I was really concerned about. I didn’t want to come off that way. But in the moment, I was kind of on a lot of adrenaline, and it was really exciting, especially with my soccer friends.”
Slattery hopes that students will be happy for their classmates when they post on social media rather than think competitively.
“I do wish that we had a culture where everyone could publicize where they are attending and everyone would feel celebrated for their choice,” Slattery said. “I just wish our environment valued the wide range of amazing schools our kids get admitted to, rather than feeling like there are winners and losers in the college process.”
*Names have been changed.