College Acceptance and Friendship: The Social Trap

Posted December 05, 2014 by
Close-up of an 'Approved' College Application letter

Close-up of an ‘Approved’ College Application letter. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This time of year, seniors probably have their SAT scores or will be receiving them very soon. And, within a few days, most seniors will be sending out the last of their college applications. There is a nerve-wracking waiting period between December 1st and early spring, when acceptance letters arrive. Most students worry about where they will be attending college next year but don’t think much about their student colleagues. However, maintaining friendships during this time can be tricky.

Scenario One – You got into your dream college but your best friend will be attending their safety school.

You worked very hard for the last four years in order to get that acceptance letter. There is no reason at all why you shouldn’t celebrate and be incredibly happy. However, there are certain times and places where you can celebrate without hurting your best friend’s feelings. Celebrations with your family and friends in your home or in an off-campus setting are wonderful. On the other hand, multiple posts on your Facebook page might not be the right way to go. Many long-term Facebook users report feeling slightly depressed if everybody else’s life is going well and they’re struggling. In order to maintain a friendship, try keeping the social media posts to a minimum.

Make sure to include your best friend in all of your celebrations. If you’re going on to your college of choice but your friend isn’t, it might be tempting to exclude them from certain celebrations so that they don’t feel awkward. In reality, being excluded from any graduation or acceptance celebration will make them feel like they’re not part of the group and should be avoided.

Be sure to congratulate your friend on his or her acceptance. They may not be happy at this particular moment in time, but your friends still worked very hard to get into college and they should be congratulated on all of their hard work.

If you find that your friend is struggling with some temporary depression due to their college acceptance situation, try talking about other things when you hang out. There are plenty of other things going on in your lives such as, sports, entertainment, that AP test that you still have to take, etc… Try talking about the things that you did prior to your college acceptance and easily maintain a positive friendship.

Scenario Two – Your best friend got into his or her dream college and you will be attending your safety school.

You worked very hard to get into the college that you will be attending in the fall, and you should feel really good about it. Most students forget about the schools that they didn’t get into as soon as they show up on campus. You’ll meet tons of new friends, you will have the opportunity to take classes you actually want to take and, if you have been taking AP classes in high school, you may find that college isn’t as time-consuming as you think. You will have a lot more free time and independence than you used to. However, this doesn’t make it any easier in the moment.

Be sure to congratulate your best friend on his or her achievement. They worked very hard also and, even though you may be feeling shy at the moment, it’s important to recognize that everybody has gone through a lot in the past couple of years and now is the time to celebrate.

Any negative thoughts should be shared within the family environment where feelings can stay private. Again, avoid putting any negative thoughts about your classmates’ acceptances on a social media site. These are things that may not only hurt your friend’s feelings but will let pretty much everyone you have ever met know how you feel. Remember, Facebook keeps everybody honest.

If your friend is constantly discussing their acceptance and how proud they are that they got into their dream school, you may consider changing the topic. It’s difficult for some people to realize that they may be hurting another person’s feelings and so other, more neutral, topics might be better for the time being. If necessary, you can speak to your friend privately and ask him or her to understand that you are in a different position. Most likely, they didn’t realize how they were treating you and will be happy to keep the discussions to a minimum after the first week or so.

Regardless of which college or university you and your classmates got into, each and every one of you worked very hard all throughout high school and should be commended for your discipline, determination, and hard work.

Robyn Scott is a private tutor with TutorNerds LLC. She has a BA from the University of California, Irvine and a MA from the University of Southampton, UK.

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