Opinion: 24-hour Insta stories don’t define your next four years

As the last round of college admissions decisions are coming to an end this month, our feeds are bombarded more than ever with Instagram stories of friends congratulating each other on their college commitments. No matter how hard it is to get accepted into a certain school, there is post after post of friends wishing them their best as they continue their educational journey at a four-year university. Though it may be a kind gesture and a post out of excitement and pride, these (repetitive) posts also come off as a slap-in-the-face to other students who may have to take a different path. 

The college admissions process as a whole can be very drawn out and demeaning; students constantly compare themselves to each other, seventeen-year-olds are forced to know what they want to do as a career, students start to get impatient waiting for an acceptance and getting a rejection starts to become a reflection on the applicants’ hard work. In addition to this stress, the constant comparison of achievements is heightened when having to view a myriad of Instagram posts just to advertise where a friend is going to school. 

More than just a pride-filled post, the need to publicly advertise to social media followers about where each person is going to college becomes almost pointless. Are we asking for people to congratulate us at this point? Does it become offensive when someone doesn’t post for a friend? 

Social media has become the foundation for bragging about belongings, accomplishments and now post-high school plans. Aside from posting for friends, people have gotten so caught up in the college commitment culture. Many students prioritize a school’s esteem rather than choosing a lesser-known school that may be a better fit for that person. When choosing a school, ask yourself: “Do I really want to go, or do I just want the name of it written in my Instagram bio?” 

“I always compare this process to buying a purse,” said CHS College and Career counselor Robin Lutsky. “I could buy a Prada purse that’s heavy and stiff and not great for me, but it’s a Prada purse. But I could go and get a Jansport backpack that would be padded and have more room to carry my [belongings] and is a lot more comfortable. This is how I feel about colleges. You could only apply to [schools] that you’ve heard of, but it could be a terrible fit; but there could just be a brand out there that nobody’s heard of in your circle, but that’s your perfect fit.”

Although it is important to celebrate and recognize the hard work of friends, there are many additional ways to do so than by posting on social media. Rather than immediately scrolling through your camera roll to find a photo to post for your friend, call them, write a card or simply give them a sincere hug. It is a much more genuine and sentimental gesture to have a meaningful moment with your friend, recognizing their hard work and telling them face-to-face how proud and happy you are for them. 

“Find that diamond in the rough for yourself. Find what I call ‘your mothership,’ because there’s nothing better than that [perfect] fit,” said Lutsky. 

By constantly having commitment posts shoved in our faces on social media, we are subconsciously comparing our future with that of others. It is important to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments and hard work we have all put in these past four years, but we should consider holding off the public celebrations.