@HMseniorsdecision wants to follow you: Accept or Reject?


Sophia Liu/Art Director

James Zaidman and Gillian Ho

Posting congratulations for friends upon their commitment to college has both pros and cons, Coco Trentalancia (12) said. “On one hand, [college is] a whole new chapter for all the seniors, but on the other, there’s a lot of students who haven’t committed and there’s some form of pressure that could make an unsafe environment.”

Although both Fieldston (@fieldston23niors_) and Riverdale (@riv23seniors) each have public Instagram decision accounts for their senior classes, the school does not. Nonetheless, many students use their personal social media accounts to post congratulatory stories and other messages for their classmates.

In the fall, a college decision account was created for the school on Instagram. The next day the administration instructed the senior class to remove the account. In a December 14 email to Class of 2023, Dean Chidi Asoluka explained, “While I understand the genuine excitement to acknowledge each other’s accomplishments, doing so publicly may have the unintended consequence of causing harm. Out of respect to our core value of balancing individual achievement and a caring community, this account must be permanently deleted and no other account of its kind can be created.”

The account was taken down because a student whose acceptance was posted was uncomfortable being showcased on the account and reported it to the administration, Dean of Students Michael Dalo said. “In general, [the administration] discourages and actively asks students not to create any sort of social media account where they’re just accumulating college decisions.”

In addition to harming seniors, the account could also hurt underclassmen, Dalo said. It may further stress out students who already spend much of their high school careers fixating on college, he said. If there is nothing besides a student’s future college listed on each Instagram post, as was the case, it causes students to equate a senior’s entire identity to the college to which they are accepted, Dalo said.

Furthermore, Dalo finds the account unnecessary as The Record annually publishes college results of conscenting seniors in the class day issue, he said. “There is a moment … when all of this information is shared and celebrated.”

A further concern around the college decisions account is that it could potentially elevate the competitive culture around college decisions, Community Council Chair Jake Ziman (12) said. The misconception that college decisions are an indicator of someone’s academic potential fuels judgment of seniors by their peers and younger students, Ziman said. This could be exacerbated by the public nature of an Instagram account.

A college decision Instagram account is not the cause of students’ disappointment; rather, the disappointment is a symptom of students constantly fixating on getting accepted to the most prestigious school possible, Nitika Subramanian (12) said. “This comes from attending a prep school where a lot of people can feel that the purpose of a high school education is to go to college.”

Despite the potential harms, Riya Daga (12) is in support of a college decision account if it is created during the springtime. The account should be created once seniors have received their Early Decision (ED) results and submitted their Regular Decision (RD) applications, she said. This would give seniors’ ample time to process their ED results.

Dalo, however, thinks that an account would not be acceptable, no matter the time of year it is created, he said. The account takes the agency of reporting college decisions out of the hands of the 182 seniors and puts it into the hands of an anonymous account administrator, he said.

The removal of the account was confusing, as the school had allowed similar accounts in the past, Clio Rao (12) said. However, Rao too believes it would be more appropriate for the account to exist now with RD results having come out, as opposed to in the fall, when ED and Rolling results are released sporadically. Having an account so early in the process may stress out seniors, she said.

While Athena Spencer (12) understands that the administration was cncerned with how early in the college process the account was created, she believes that the account is a fun way to congratulate everyone on being accepted to college, she said. “I like being able to see where everyone goes because I don’t have conversations with most people about their college process.”

There are certain benefits to a college decision Instagram account, Emma Chang (10) said. The account allows students to celebrate one another and provides a space for those who want to share their decisions, she said. At the end of the day, the college you go to should not have to be a secret, she said. “If anything, I think the point of decision accounts is to celebrate the seniors regardless of which school they go to.”

Despite the removal of the Instagram account, students continue to post congratulations on their personal social media accounts. In an anonymous Record poll sent to the senior class, 62% of 45 total respondents reported posting for their friends after they committed to a college, with 93% of respondents posting their congratulations on Instagram, mainly via stories.

Rao enjoys posting for her friends because it gives her a chance to reflect on their memories together, she said. She particularly loves going through her camera roll and choosing pictures for photo collages to put on her story.

Posting for friends can allow seniors to find joy and happiness amidst the stressful college process, Rao said. “The college process is filled with emotions running high, so I think the celebratory aspect is something that we want to respect as much as possible,” she said. While it can be difficult to see other students getting into schools that one applied to, at the end of the day, the posts are made for fun without any malicious intent, Rao said.

While Spencer does not post for friends, she is not explicitly against it, she said. She just prefers to congratulate her friends in person, she said. “[Posting] is just not my thing, but I really enjoy seeing other people do it, and I like that people are happy for their friends.”

Similarly, Daga does not post because she does not want to offend her friends by posting for some but not others, she said. “I just don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings … but I definitely take the time to congratulate my friends via text, call, or in person,” she said.

Daga encourages seniors not to get upset over instagram stories as social media does not tell the full story. “You see 10 people get in, but maybe 90 don’t,” she said. “At the same time, you keep seeing the same people so it feels like more people had a good outcome even though that is not the reality for many others.”

Trentalancia attempts to use discretion when posting for friends, she said. She only posts for her friends after they have shared the information with her, she said. “I try to make the posts sincere and genuine, not flashy,” she said.

Rao is also careful when posting for friends. She always makes sure that the friend that she is posting for consents to their acceptance being shared, she said.

Although Rao respects students who try to keep aspects of their college process private, gossip spreads quickly so college decisions are often discovered by other members of the class anyways, she said. Accordingly, Rao always understands if a friend does not want their acceptance to be shared publicly or even shared at all, she said.

Head of the Upper Division (UD) Dr. Jessica Levenstein encourages and applauds students who make the decision to keep their college process confidential, she said. “I wouldn’t call that secrecy,” she said. “I would call it privacy.”

Posts can be damaging or stressful to those waiting to hear back from colleges, Levenstein said. “If you’re still waiting on a decision or if you’re waiting on your waitlist school and you’re scrolling through your feed and seeing tons of these posts, I’m sure that can bring you down.”

The removal of the Instagram account fits with a larger school culture of keeping the college process secret, Trentalancia said. For instance, students are discouraged from wearing college merch.

Chang does not see an issue with occasionally sporting college merch. “Sometimes I’ll just put on college merch because it’s at the top of my drawer,” she said. While she acknowledges that college merch can potentially cause stress, wearing it once in a while is not inherently a problem, she said.

Similarly, Trentalancia does not see an issue with underclassmen wearing merch during the college season as there is no malicious intent behind it, she said. In addition, since many underclassmen are not even thinking about the college process when wearing the college merchandise, seniors should not take offense, she said.

Levenstein appreciates that seniors tend to hold off on wearing their college merch until the spring, she said. “For some people, [the college process] is done in December, and for others, it’s done in mid or late May.”