Creating A Better Environment Around College Decisions Day


In preparation for Senior fall, Juniors spend countless hours creating their list of top colleges. The college counselors make sure that each student has a balanced list of “likelies,” “targets” and “reaches” and that they feel happy with each selection. Juniors may rank their schools or at least have a top choice, many of which are highly selective. With Juniors’ top choices often being highly selective schools and with these schools getting more selective each year there is bound to be some disappointment.

It is important to be proud of any school you get into no matter the ranking on your list, but that doesn’t mean you’re not also allowed to feel disappointed from being rejected from a top choice. This was particularly relevant this year after a whirlwind of a college process. With schools being test-optional and an increase in the number of applicants, many Seniors may feel frustrated or upset given the higher rates of rejection. The college process is likely going to become even more strenuous and selective, especially if schools remain test-optional for future applicants. 

With this in mind, there is one particular Lakeside tradition, one that other private schools also participate in, that requires more preparation. This tradition, known as College Decisions Day, is where Seniors wear the merchandise of the college they commit to. This day already took place this year in early May, and most surveyed seniors wore their college merchandise, stating that it creates a “sense of community” and that it is “fun to see where other people will be attending school.” While these are both reasonable, a few Seniors noted experiencing a “chaotic college process” likely with an extensive admissions process and many rejections or waitlists. There was also some confusion as to when the day was happening, and many students did not have their college’s merchandise. There was more hesitation with the rising Senior class as to whether or not they would participate in College Decisions day next year. A few felt as though they have to “because it’s tradition,” while still stressing that the day “promotes unnecessary stress [and] competition.”

With this tradition likely to continue, a reasonable course of action would be a clarification of timing and optionality. The college counseling team should send an email in advance detailing when College Decision Day takes place and emphasizing that it is optional. By emphasizing that the day is optional and not a required tradition, many students may feel less obligated to wear their school merch if doing so makes them feel uncomfortable. Announcing the date a month or so in advance would also give the Seniors enough time to process and come to terms with their decision no matter whether their college was their first or last choice. They could join accepted student webinars or go visit the college so that they feel part of their college community, making them more comfortable with sharing their decision with their peers. 

It is important to be proud of your classmates’ success and of making it through an ordeal as challenging as the college admissions process, but it is also important to understand that a College Decision Day may not be fitting without some notice.