There seems to be an overarching, unspoken agreement among older generations that social media negatively affects the youth. Whether it be the influencers of Generation Z documenting quarantine school on TikTok or a new dynamic of opinion expressed by Millenials on Twitter, the internet has shaped modern students’ lives. Undeniably, the different ways age groups use the internet has impacted their views on the world and its tribulations.
When it comes to one of the most universally stressful processes that most young adults proceed through, the college admissions process, current Gen Z students see their peers accepting and enrolling in more detail than ever with social media. It is a familiar feat for a high school senior to find out where someone is going for university via Instagram. Some, typically older, community members believe that this immediate posting, where a friend praises their peer for their choice, is toxic for students. Now, many private schools strongly discourage their students from doing such, but this restriction is unhelpful. Posting on social media about college does little to nothing for the already suffering mental health of students.
Social media amplifies individuals’ insecurities and confidence level as they cherry-pick their most outstanding achievements or edited photos to portray a certain image of themselves. As a young American who has been on popular social media outlets for many years, I am already aware of the toll that these apps can take on my mental health. With 75% of 18–24-year-olds using the Instagram platform, social media, and how one learns to navigate it, is a large part of High Schoolers’ lives (sproutsocial.com). The college process is an intertwined part of students’ experiences as it’s the highlight reel of an individual’s life. There's nothing about college posts that hurt me any more than a post that bolsters another achievement. Social media’s place in the college admissions process is a symptom of a much more significant problem.
The college admissions system is predisposed to making students feel terrible about themselves. Every senior sits there, waiting for weeks, for an email notification that will ultimately decide the direction of their future. I am waiting to hear if I get rejected -- it is as horrifying and straightforward as that. No matter how strictly you prepare yourself for rejection letters, they hurt. Whether it be personal or professional, my feeling of not being good enough depends on someone else’s day and how I can summarize my entire self in a few pages. If a system that quantitatively measures your worthiness with applications does not break you in some miniscule way, you are stronger than most.
The internet amplifies who someone wishes to be and is a tool to share information at the click of a button. Social media has become a scapegoat for real issues that existed before its inception, like bullying and discrimination. The trials of the college admissions process are no different. Any person, school, or administrator that tries to pin the troubles of young adults on social media is blissfully unaware of the real difficulties that come alongside the college process.