Feelings fade, but the internet doesn’t

Yesterday, a student who had been denied from a highly selective college responded by tweeting at the school’s dean of admissions, hurling rage and insults at him that depending on your interpretation were at best offensive and at worst racist (the icing on the Twitter cake was that the post was also rife with spelling errors).

It didn’t take long for a screenshot of that tweet to make the social media rounds in the counseling and admissions community. Here’s what will very likely happen next.

1. There’s a good chance his post could make its way to the admissions offices of colleges that admitted him.

2. Because screenshots last forever (even after a tweet is deleted), and because this student chose a Twitter handle that uses his full name, he won’t be able to deny that he wrote that post.

3. If #1 happens, there’s an equally good chance those schools will rescind his admission.

Yes, he’s a teenager, and teens make mistakes. If he’d tweeted “You guys missed out” or even “You suck,” most admissions professionals would chalk it up to youthful emotion and laugh it off. But a post that is offensive and angry forces colleges to ask serious questions.

What will he do if he disagrees with a grade a professor gives him?

How will he handle himself if he loses an election for a dorm leadership post, or doesn’t get invited to join his first choice fraternity, or isn’t selected for an opportunity on campus that he was excited about?

Will other students feel safe learning and living in close quarters with this student?

Is it worth the college’s risk to put a student prone to this kind of anger into a campus community, especially with likely so many other qualified applicants to choose from?

I don’t predict he’s going to like the answers.

I will admit that part of me feels bad for this kid. Teens today have the capability of publishing their thoughts publicly to a potentially huge audience, an ability that is often unforgiving of teenage indiscretions.

But I’d also never let him on my campus if I were putting a class together and I saw that tweet. Tens of thousands of other kids were just as disappointed if not more so with news they’ve received. And they made a different choice.

High school students (and their parents), I know college admissions decisions can feel bitterly personal. But whatever disappointment, frustration, or outright anger that you’re feeling, please do not channel it publicly in a way that you cannot possibly take back. It’s not worth it. It’s not right. And you’ll probably regret it.

Feelings fade, but the internet lives on.