Decoding the College Facebook Status

04/20/2011 11:55 am ET | Updated Jun 20, 2011

According to Tina Fey, the rudest question you can ask a woman is "How do you juggle it all?" According to me, the rudest question you can ask a high school senior is "Where did you get into college?" (It might be better to open with "Where did you get rejected?") The question simply shouldn't be asked. If the student wants to offer that information, she can do so of her own accord. And she will -- most frequently via her Facebook status.

The variations are limitless, but the message is always the same: "I am happy/over the moon/sobbing, and all 1,000+ of my Facebook friends may now react accordingly." But for the uninitiated -- those too far removed from the college process or from Facebook, which is to say anyone over the age of 21 -- it might be difficult to decode what exactly the long string of exclamation points or emoticons or Youtube videos means. And considering that there is little more intriguing than where your coworker's over-achieving, straight-A, class president daughter has been accepted, herewith is a guide to decoding the college status:

1. The Hemingway (To-the-point and straightforward, you can expect a Hemingway from a future engineer or anyone on Long Island.)

a. Harvard 2015!!! <3 =)
b. Yesss, it is official now!!! Yale University Class of 2015!!!

Obviously, this one isn't too difficult to decipher. We can only hope that the future Bulldog's lab reports are equally clear and straightforward. However -- should the good news have left you somewhat resentful -- remember that after this status she won't have any friends.

2. The Toni Morrison (Characterized by its raw, unbridled emotion, and with little actual information to back it up, the Toni Morrison is most frequently found on the profiles of drama geeks, artists, and anybody not quite confident enough to pull a Hemingway.)

a. !!!!!!!!

You can assume that your Facebook friend is excited. That's what exclamation points usually mean. But she recognizes that college season is a sensitive time. Believe it or not, she is trying to be subtle. No university names mentioned. No outright acknowledgment of her achievement. The Toni Morrison is the epitome of nuance and restraint. But the most important question remains unanswered -- where has she been accepted? The good news about a "!!!" status is that it's just asking for comments. You can rest assured that somebody has responded with a "WHERE DID U GET INNN?" and our master of subtlety has casually proffered a "Brown! So excited ;)"

3. The John Donne (Because of the wit and subtlety required, Donnes tend to be rare -- reserved for our country's future textbook and cookbook authors.)

a. :D
b. :p
c. :O

These are tricky. If it weren't March 30th, and if the status had not earned 162 likes (and an assured spot on your future "memorable status" reminder page), you might even be fooled into thinking that it was just another run-of-the-mill post. It isn't. Dartmouth, Duke, and Dickinson all start with D. Princeton, Penn, and Pomona begin with P; Oxford, Oberlin, and Occidental with O. This is college code. But how to figure out what, exactly, the D, P, or O stands for? If the comments don't answer your question, check recent likes which, in Facebook parlance, more or less means those pages linked to a profile. Our university-bound friend is too clever to leave her profile-viewer hanging. She has probably liked her college page, just in case.

4. The Samuel Beckett (Minimalism is not the forte of the Facebook generation; don't expect too many of these. That's a good thing, because Becketts are tough -- they mean no update at all.)

"No news is good news" has not been true since Mark Zuckerberg clicked launch. If the profile has not been updated in a week, you can usually assume that that's because no "!!!" was in order. (And you can be sure of that if sympathetic friends have posted links to alternate career paths, consoling videos, or pictures of kittens.) However, there is always the outside chance that your friend is simply trying to be delicate. Pull out all the stops. Check page likes, wait for others to post, scan captions of recently tagged pictures. If all else fails, go the old fashioned route and pick up the phone.

Or just respect her privacy.