Students Must Stop College Shaming

Judgment from peers causes excess pressure on students


Graphic/ Kristyn Dentremont

College application season is upon us once again. For many seniors, this means hours of stress over the Common Application and supplemental essays. This process is undeniably nerve-racking; students must make a decision that will impact the rest of their lives. However, a majority of many students’ stress comes from a fear of judgment from their peers.

Anyone who has experienced the college process can relate to the bombardment of opinions that comes from various friends and family members. However, in the age of social media, the pressure to appease others has only increased. Many students make a decision that satisfies others rather than one that suits themselves.

Imagine a student feeling excitement upon getting accepted to their dream college, only to have a peer claim that this is not an accomplishment because that school is their safety school. This student then feels pressure to attend a “better” school. However, what defines a good school? Low admission rates? Good reputation? Strong sports teams? It is impossible to name one single best school, because every applicant has different needs and wants.

“[Talking about college] can get overwhelming sometimes, especially when I hear classmates list all their huge achievements from high school and talk about prestigious schools, like the Ivy Leagues,” senior Sameera Manjrekar said. “There’s definitely a competitive atmosphere when it comes to the subject of college.”

While one applicant might be able to afford an expensive private school, this is not always a viable option for everyone. An education from a state school is just as valuable, yet often comes at a fraction of the price. However, state schools are often looked down upon as less prestigious.

Community college attendees frequently face similar reactions. Many students choose to attend community college for two years before earning their Bachelor’s Degree from another university. While this decision may allow students to
save a great amount of money, it also comes with judgment, as many believe community college to be for the academically unmotivated.

Even students who do not attend college still face the judgment of the college process. It is impossible to deny that there is a societal stigma around not attending college. However, according to a Georgetown study, an approximated 36% of jobs do not require education past high school. For many, attending a university for four years might just be a waste of time if their future career does not demand a college degree.

“I don’t really want to go to college, at least not yet, because most of the careers I’m interested in don’t require a college degree,” an anonymous student said. “I wish it was more common to not attend college because I feel like an outsider.”

As colleges continue to release admissions decisions, students must become more aware about the consequences of their words. Even a seemingly passive comment can lead one to feel shameful about their decision. Attending college is a massive commitment that impacts the rest of one’s life. Students should not treat it as a competition.