I have made a supreme and solemn vow. Around college admissions time I will not, no matter what, go near Facebook for at least two months. Why? I mean isn't it part of the territory that people will post annoying things on FB? Yes, that's true. However this March I hit the proverbial wall. This time it wasn't my kid or her friends who were posting inappropriately: it was their parents.
The sad story began in early Spring. I casually turned on my computer and did what I always do: checked my e-mails, read The Huffington Post and began to scroll through my Facebook page. This time, as I perused New News and Top News (it took me two months before I could figure out the difference between the two), I began to see posts that set my nerves on edge. Here are some samples:
"Maggie has been accepted to Trinity College! NOT her first choice. But at least she got in somewhere!"
Well, uh, Trinity could be somebody's first choice 'ya know OR, maybe, just maybe somebody else's kid didn't get into Trinity or any college for that matter. Hmmm... Okay.
I blow it off. A few days pass.
"Maggie has been accepted to Barnard, Vassar, Dartmouth, Brown and Yale!!!!!! Woo-hoo. So proud and so excited. But still waiting to hear from her #1 choice!!!!!!"
Uh, seriously? What could her first choice possibly be? But wait, a few days pass. Then, a breathless post: "Maggie has been accepted to Harvard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
OMG. Harvard? This has to be Maggie's first choice, right? Her dreams have come true. This is what she, we, the world has been waiting for. What the entire family has been pining and hoping for for months, years, days.
Naturally, as is the case with FB, there will be comments:
"Congrats to Maggie, can we take you out to lunch to find out what she did to get into all those great schools?????"
"Wow, Maggie is soooooooooooo smart, but we always knew that."
"I knew about Harvard, but Yale, Vassar and Brown too? Wow."
"Congratulations to Maggie!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Where is she going to go?"
"It's between Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth. She is going... somewhere????"
Okay. I'm sure as hell relieved; Maggie has gained admission into just about every top tier school in the country. I feel much, much better. Good for Maggie. But how does this help my kid who is having meltdowns over high school geometry and has decided NOT to apply to Wesleyan because she can't deal with taking calculus? How does that help all Maggie's mom's FB friends who have kids who got rejected from all those colleges and feel very lucky to get into... anywhere USA? I'm wondering what parents are thinking when they post their kid's college acceptances. I'm sure they're proud. I'm sure there has been a great deal of stress in the house and that it's a huge relief knowing that after all the hard work and studying, there is a payoff. In some cases, the payoff is impressive and in others, it's disappointing and a soft landing. The anxiety level is palatable. The one-upsmanship is dangerous.
I think that given the competitive nature of college admissions and parental/child buy-in into the drama, the frenzy about getting into college -- particularly the most desirable, selective schools -- is now at such a fever pitch that it makes normally sane people insane. The most sensitive, discreet people become utter loudmouths and braggarts and lose all sense of reality.
Here's the thing. No one is saying that getting into college isn't important. It is. It's very important. No one is saying you shouldn't be proud of your child. You should. No one doubts that you're a great parent. You are. BUT, some things are private and should not be broadcast to the world for any number of reasons. If I need to spell out those reasons, I'm happy to.
Please do me a favor, take a look at your list of FB friends. Think about what kinds of kids they have and take a guesstimate at how they might be doing in school. What do you get out of broadcasting your kid's good, mediocre or just okay admissions information? Why do you think anyone, but those people who are closest to you, care? I'm being very polite here, but if you need everyone to talk about how obnoxious your postings are, then by all means, keep it up.
However, if you want to stop being a competitive, self-centered, obnoxious parent, then keep your kid's admissions information to yourself. If they decide to post it all over FB, fine... but don't you do it. Why? Because quite frankly, it really, truly annoys everyone and it makes the admissions process that much more stressful for all involved. It also sets a bad example. You're the parent. You're the adult. Act like one.