Let the student direct the scene

I’ll admit it. I’ve watched and enjoyed a few of those video collections of kids getting accepted to college (it’s the only time I’ve ever gotten misty from a Target commercial). What a special moment for those kids. How wonderful for a teen to experience so much well-deserved joy. And what a technological gift to capture it all on video.

Still, while many of those kids made the independent choice to capture and subsequently share their reactions, I can’t help but wonder how many had the choice made for them. Did they ask the entire family to gather around the computer? Did they request that their parents get the phones out and capture their moment? And does their comfort level change if the news turns out to be what they didn’t want to hear?

It’s late in the college notification game for me to have this insight, but given that many students are still awaiting acceptances, I’d like to remind families of a few things.

Students, remember that the arrival of this news and your subsequent reaction is yours alone. It’s not for your parents, your friends, or anyone else. There is no state law requiring you to invite the whole family to join you around the computer for the big reveal, to capture it on video to share, or to do anything else that injects entertainment and drama into a college telling you if you’ve been accepted. If you want to do those things, knock yourself out. But don’t do it out of obligation, social media pressure, or the sense that you’ll miss out forever if you don’t record the single moment of acceptance. Four years from now, you’ll have collected countless experiences, memories, and electronic captures of your college years that will mean even more than any video of your acceptance will.

And parents, please resist the urge to insert yourself into the decision-revealing moment unless your student invites you. If they choose to check their status with you in the room, no problem. If they ask you to record it, get the phone out. But if they’d really rather take a moment to receive the news on their own terms without an audience or the pressure of recording their reaction, please respect that. Would you want your son or daughter in the office with you recording your reaction to news about whether you’d been promoted or demoted or laid off? Your kids are the ones who’ve been evaluated and are about to be subsequently accepted or denied. That never gets easier at any age. Let them experience it the way they choose. Then be there to join them with unconditional love and support on the other side, no matter what the news.

There’s nothing wrong with using technology to enhance, share, and preserve life’s moments. But before anyone yells, “Action!” take five and let the student direct the scene.