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How to be a good friend during the college admissions process

Spread editor Gracie Hammond discusses how to properly handle the difficult nature of the college process. Staff photo: Baily Deeter.

By Gracie Hammond  

Across the world, in this past and coming week high school seniors are receiving back their college admission decisions. The vast amount of hours spent writing college essays, preparing for and taking standardized tests, travelling for college visits, and meeting with college counselors all cumulate to this one moment. Therefore it’s only natural for a teenager to feel the stress and pressure that these weeks and the college process as a whole can provoke.

However, it’s important that this stress is monitored and put into perspective. It’s too easy to let the craziness of the college process seep into other aspects of our lives, especially into our friendships with kids who are going through the same situation as us. Which brings us to the golden question: how do you talk, or not talk, about the college admissions process with your friends?

The key to maintaining strong friendships throughout the college admissions process is knowing your friends’ boundaries. Some people just deal with good and bad news differently. While one friend may immediately text you when they get a decision, another friend could not bring it up and skirt around the subject if you ask them. This is totally fine. It’s important to remember that everyone is entitled to dealing with college decisions in their own manner, even if it’s starkly different from yours.

Having a keen awareness about how your friends internalize news allows you to appropriately be there for them. For example, you wouldn’t want to send a dozen probing texts to your friend who airs on the private side of things, just like how you wouldn’t want to give too much space and caution while greeting a friend who’s known for liking to share their news and receive big responses in return.

An email sent by Cathy Chen from the Menlo College Counseling team gave seniors advice on how to handle this trying process. “Be positive. Simply be the biggest personal cheerleaders for each of your friends as they hear good news and disappointing news. If you don’t have something positive to say, then remain quiet. And be mindful of sharing your personal opinions about schools as it can have a lasting impact on your friends. Please, support your classmates,” the college counselors said.

The email brings up another point: keep your personal opinions on schools to yourself. The last thing that I’d want to hear is one of my friends judgmently bad-mouthing the school that I’m planning to go to. Even if you don’t mean it rudely, or you’re stressed about your own college process and trying to make yourself better, or even if it’s true, some things are better left unsaid. There’s a school for every personality, and just because you don’t like a school doesn’t mean you need to knock it.

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