To Tell or Not To Tell – Where They’re Applying
By LAUREN DOLOWICH and SABRINA BERMAN
When the much-dreaded season of college applications rolls in every fall, Jericho High School seniors cope in various ways with the immense levels of stress and pressure that accompany making such a decision. Some seniors conceal the college they wish to attend from their classmates either to increase their chances of admission or to avoid embarrassment if they don’t get accepted. In contrast, other seniors are open about their college selection.
The fear of being deferred or rejected is one reason that many students hide where they plan on applying. Alumnus Michael Goren did not tell anyone his school of choice because he thought “it would ruin my chances of getting in, because the more people that apply, the harder it is to get in.”
Another alum who did not tell her peers about the colleges she applied to, let alone visited, was Lexie Orbuch. Her rationale for being so secretive, however, did not stem from a fear of competing with her peers. “I felt that if I told people where I was applying and then didn’t get in, people would feel obligated to say something to me, and I didn’t want them to feel badly,” she said. Orbuch felt that this strategy would lessen the disappointment of rejection. “I figured that I would be upset and disappointed enough, and wouldn’t want to hear it from everyone else.”
Yale undergraduate Ben Kronengold said, “I think that in general people are somewhat secretive about their college decision and when it comes to the places they’re applying early because they don’t want other people to hold them to certain expectations and then be disappointed if they don’t get in.”
Before early decision applications are submitted, some Jericho seniors actually make deals with each other about which schools their classmates can apply to in order to ensure that their peers do not apply to the same college. “I told my friends not to apply to Indiana because I thought I wouldn’t get accepted if a lot of people applied to Indiana as well,” said Indiana freshman Elizabeth Mintz.
However, many worry that such deals negatively influence students’ decisions and that such peer pressure can alter a student’s perception of what he or she may truly want. Guidance counselor Ms. Bobby Becker believes it is a smart idea for students to avoid discussing their top college choices because it contributes to a mindset in which “people focus more on what others are saying and less on the topic of what is good for themselves.”
Although numerous seniors last year kept their college decisions hidden from others, there are also many seniors who were open about the colleges they applied to. “I didn’t feel the need to keep my college choice a secret because there was nothing I had to be ashamed about,” said Syracuse University freshman Rachel Hoffman. “I always worked hard in high school, so I knew if I didn’t get in to my first choice there would always be other options.”
Similarly, Anuhita Basavaraju, a freshman at Duke University, was open about where she was applying to college because she figured whether or not she told anyone, “people would find out anyway.” Alex Gerome was also open about his college decision because he felt it “didn’t affect whether or not I get in.”
Current Jericho seniors are already stressed about where they are going to apply to college next fall. Samantha M. said, “I don’t really care if people know where I’m applying to school and if I get in, because I think it should be an open thing.”
After her junior year had come to an end, Orbuch decided that the main source of stress from the college process came from the fact that for all of her junior year into the beginning of senior year, “all everyone talked about was college.” Orbuch and many other seniors felt that constantly discussing college forced classmates to feel as if they were competing against one another for the same spots in the same universities.
Contrary to popular belief, American teenagers have not always been placed under so much pressure regarding college acceptances. Principal Mrs. Joan Rosenberg said, “Here at Jericho High School, we used to hand out a form to the senior class to fill out with three columns: accepted, rejected, and wait- listed. Kids had no problem filling that out. It didn’t feel threatening back then. It was very rare for a kid not to put down where they were accepted.”