Setting the bar on social media

For upcoming college students, social media adds unnecessary pressures and unrealistic expectations for their applications



It’s no secret the college application process is stressful. Curating a list of extracurriculars, writing personal statements and supplements, and actually figuring out where to apply are all things that add substantial amounts of stress to a lot of seniors.

However, not all of this stress is from the process itself. Forums like College Confidential and subreddits promote an extremely toxic cycle of comparison. I can attest to this first-hand: I am a first-generation college student who did plenty of research about college to try to find out what is best for my applications, and on the way, I stumbled onto a subreddit called r/chanceme.

It’s full of the dazzling applications of ivy-league and T20 applicants that all look like they came out of the instant acceptance generator. After I read a couple of the posts I immediately felt a sense of imposter syndrome and wondered why I even bothered to apply to certain schools. 

Now aside from the amazing applications on social media, the wording that people use to describe their application can also be harmful. I’ve read posts from applicants that state they have low stats and boast a 1500+ SAT score. For reference, anything over the score of 1450 is in the 99th percentile or above, which means the top 1% of high schoolers internationally. 

Now, I’m not trying to discredit the amazing applicants on this thread. They work extremely hard and do amazing things. It’s just important to remember perspective when reading through these groups; not every student in the applicant pool will have won international awards or had perfect AP and SAT scores. 

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t acknowledge that social media does also help the college process as well. I have found so many current college students online who talk about why they love going to their school and why they made the decision to attend that school. The internet and social media can be a great place to learn about how the college process itself works. 

However, a post on social media doesn’t provide all of the context needed. I rarely see people post their full essays, instead opting to score them and keep them secret for security purposes (which I think is a smart decision). For those who don’t know, essays are a huge part of the college application process. For schools that don’t conduct interviews, it’s how the college gets to know you. It is one of the only things personalizing the list of scores and extracurriculars for the admissions officer. 

So keep all of this in mind if you decide to go through these online platforms—or better yet, don’t read them until you submit your applications.