Opinion: Seniors need to stop ridiculing each other over colleges

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Anna Wilkinson

This year’s seniors are listening more to their envious thoughts when reacting to their peers’ college decisions.

“I would literally die if I went to that school.”

“Of course you got in; it’s so easy to get in there!”

“I still can’t believe you would go to a school like that.”

Comments like this continuously prove that this year’s seniors have few boundaries and are immature regarding college applications and decisions.

One of the reasons we create this toxic environment is because we have been brought up in such a competitive environment that we are incapable of feeling happy for each other without feeling threatened. So, when we tell each other about our college application processes, we are faced with judgment and invalidation. 

For the past four years, my family members have obsessively asked about the schools I am interested in, but it wasn’t until this year that I noticed the trend continued, but with my classmates. Since college applications are most seniors’ top priority right now, it is all we ever talk about, and so far, I’ve only been met with negative responses when the topic comes up. 

I have experienced this negativity indirectly and directly. Most of the time, judgmental comments about where someone is going to school or wants to go are uttered after they leave the room. Some seniors who consider themselves superior to others tend to ridicule those going to party schools or committed to sports. Since party schools are seen as less educational or “worthy” in our bubble society, people attending them are assumed to be simple-minded. Another example of this superiority complex is directed towards seniors committed to sports, as they are believed not to have earned their spots in the academic sense. While neither of these assumptions is necessarily accurate, we get caught up in everyone else’s decisions to distract us from our own and protect our egos. 

I notice this environment thriving in my more competitive and Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Since we are all trying to be at the top of our class, our first reaction is anger when someone achieves something we want. When someone is admitted to a school that we want to go to, our first reaction is to be jealous of them and minimize their success with our ignorant comments. This is not to say that we are incapable of feeling happy for others. Still, since we have been integrated into such a competitive environment, it makes it much more difficult to only feel happiness without being accompanied by envy.

This year’s seniors are so stressed and caught up in their applications they don’t think of the ramifications of their words. Too often, I hear people being taunted for their school choices because our community has decided certain schools aren’t up to our standards. For example, many people who applied to the University of Oregon have been accepted, as the school has rolling admissions. When people in my classes have mentioned getting accepted, they are met with pity and comments like, “It is not that bad of a school,” proving again that we are incapable of simply being happy for one another.

I predict that when decisions come out, the environment around the senior class will only grow more toxic. Students will not be happy for each other if someone gets into a school they are rejected from. These jealous feelings will bubble up and will cause a divide in the graduating class.

Now some may argue that seniors shouldn’t bottle up these feelings of envy and anger at the expense of their happiness, and while I agree, I think we as a senior class have a choice to make. Either we continue to allow this poisonous environment to be fostered, or we create a new, genuine one where we support each other’s successes, even if we lose. So, even if your goal is to get into a competitive school, it is essential to remember that not everyone else’s goals will align with yours. So while someone may be celebrating something you would be embarrassed about, take a step back and get out of your head.

We don’t have much time left together, and it shouldn’t be spent tearing each other down.