For those who may be too young to remember: Big college reveals were never really a “thing.”
I remember sending out pictures of myself on a blue-and-orange grad announcement with the University of Florida’s mascot, an alligator, stamped in the bottom right.
Upon graduation, I sent them out to close relatives, my parents’ friends and distant family members—anyone with endless generosity and deep enough pockets to cough up a check to fund what I hoped would be my textbooks and school supplies (but really ended up supplementing the cover charge for getting into bars in Midtown and catching the latest movie release at the local AMC—sorry, Mom and Dad).
Times have changed though (this, we know), and now college-decision reveal videos are Generation Z’s answer to the grand grad announcement, according to The Cut. These videos are typically flashy, always tech-savvy (“How do they get the font to overlay on the video?!” —me, sounding way older than I actually am) and also gut-wrenchingly hard to watch if you haven’t been following the person’s process all along. And it’s become somewhat of a young Vlogger staple to post one (or both) of the two types of decision reveals: a “here’s where I decided to go!” video or a “decision reaction” video that shows the real-time response to opening up their admissions emails.
Justin Chae’s “College Decision Reactions” makes me feel like an underachiever (Princeton, Yale and Columbia are among his prospective schools). Sukaina Attar’s “COLLEGE DECISION REVEAL 2019!” employs cupcakes (a common technique with college-decision reveals, which feels only slightly more elevated than gender-reveal lasagna) to show viewers her future school choice, and KayleeInADay goes over the 17 (!) different schools she applied to.
Overall, it gives me a sense of dread, reminiscent of the feeling of not knowing what to expect from a decision letter. I feel a pit in my stomach as I watch Justin open his Stanford letter and get denied, or KayleeInADay sign into her Northwestern account and get rejected.
For those watching who want to prep themselves for the same moment in their future, it may be a source of comfort to see that, no, getting denied from your top school is not the end of the world as you know it. But for those like me, just an innocent bystander to the entire (very personal) process of seeing where someone got accepted to college, it can feel like it’s lifting the curtain on something very intimate that I just happened to stumble across.
Whatever the case, the videos are often very positive and take something as heavy as rejection and make it a lesson in unfailing optimism (“OK. I got rejected…and that is OK!” the soft-spoken KayleeInADay remarks).
And that, my friends, is the real takeaway. (Trust: You won’t get that same uplifting feeling from a blue-and-pink lasagna, we can guarantee it.)