An Unusual Vice: College Decision Videos

by Novi Zhukovsky | 3/27/19 2:10am


By the tail end of twelfth grade, seniors begin to exhibit the typical symptoms of senioritis: slacking off, showing up late to school, wearing sweatpants to class and realizing it might be time to actually talk to that crush they’ve been too scared to face. But behind the fact that classes are starting to wind down and grades have begun to matter less lies the harrowing reality that college admissions decisions are just around the corner. For some, thinking about the college decision notification date makes them want to puke. Others, however, incessantly fantasize about the picture-perfect moment in which they open the letter and get greeted by an immediate, all caps, “CONGRATULATIONS!” and proceed to be embraced by family and friends who pop out of nowhere and shower them with pre-bought college gear and bubbly champagne. And when the day comes, some brave souls even take the daring step of recording themselves opening their decisions.

I have to admit, as a senior in high school, I was fascinated by college decisions reaction videos. With each gleeful and tear-streaked clip, I became more and more excited about the possibility of experiencing a similar moment. I went through the most-viewed college acceptance videos online in just a few days, but I was still hungry for more. Scrolling through the depths of YouTube, I began to come across videos that had fewer views and were lesser known. These videos typically did not provide the same exuberant reactions as the most popular ones that popped up first did, but they still tended to have happy endings. And then I watched the most horrible video an anxious high school senior could find: a college notification video in which a student was denied from every single college they applied to. 

Horrified, I cleared my YouTube history, slammed down my computer screen and swore to never watch those kinds of videos again. 

But it seems that I may be more sensitive than others. Some enjoy these videos regardless of whether or not there is a positive outcome for the student. And with college admissions decisions being released for the Class of 2023 soon, YouTube is filling up with new reaction videos. While some regard their own obsession with these videos as an embarrassing vice, others find this pastime as a casual means of entertainment. Regardless of what you think of them, here are anonymous confessions from ’22s who have watched college notification videos: 

1. “As a high school student, I liked watching the videos where students got rejected from most of the colleges they applied to because it made me feel relieved that if I got rejected too, at least I wouldn’t be the only one.”

2. “One time I watched a college acceptance video where a minority kid from an impoverished neighborhood got accepted into Harvard. It made me cry.”

3. “A girl from my school live-streamed her early admissions decision, but when she opened the decision, it was a rejection. She ended the video pretty quickly after that.” 

4. “I recorded a video of myself reading out my college decisions. I ended up getting accepted to a bunch of schools, which was great, but when I opened rejection letters I didn’t know what to say so I kind of didn’t react at all. Because of that, my video kind of made me seem like an emotionless psychopath, so I never posted it on YouTube or showed it to anyone.”

5. “Sometimes I liked to watch videos where the person recording gets rejected from every school.”

6. “I still watch admissions decision videos … and I’m in college.” 

7. “I wanted to film myself reacting to my decision letters, but my mom told me she thought it was a bad idea in case I didn’t get accepted … that hurt.”

8. “After I got rejected early decision, I started watching acceptance videos for that school. And yes, I realize that makes me a sadist.”