The college culture at Concord Academy is quite the hot topic. What some call amazing and supportive, others call excessive and limiting. 

In some ways, our school does an amazing job facilitating its students through the college process. Our College Counseling Office is highly praised and for good reason. The resources and people in the CCO are incredibly helpful and a joy to work with. The counselors answer your questions, settle your nerves, keep in contact with you and your parents, and go above and beyond to make sure you feel comfortable with where you are during the journey to university. 

Then again, there is a climate that some question at CA, which exists mostly among the students. Why is it the norm to keep to yourself? Why are you limited to sharing your successes and disappointments only with your counselor and perhaps your close friends and family? The silence that CA students maintain during this busy time is deafening. 

Getting into college is a huge deal, and the process to that point is equally as important. A process so substantial in your life should not be undertaken alone. If we want to praise ourselves as an uplifting community, we should encourage students as they celebrate their successes and support them in their disappointments. However, these things can be done far more openly. Everyone is on the same journey. If people are hurt by your sweatshirt that you wear so proudly, the one that represents the pride you have for the school where you are spending the next four years of your life, that is on them. If people are offended by a student celebrating the successes of their friend by posting on social media, that is their choice. If we want a culture that we can be proud of, we must be happy for our peers, and excited for their achievements. In return, they will do the same for us. 

Should we construct a community built on vulnerability and empathy, students will find themselves happier and healthier through it all. We fear an excessive amount of comparisons. We have accepted that students’ first thoughts are, “They got in. They are better than me,” or, “I did not get in, everyone is going to judge me.” In these assumptions, we cultivate a culture of isolation, and students fall into the abyss. They, too, tell themselves these things because they feel it is right. They feel it is the norm.

The truth of the matter is that it will be okay. Bring back the rejection wall. After all, you are not alone in your disappointment, and you should not feel alone in your excitement. College is college, and CA students are all wonderfully gifted. The better we understand this, and the more we show our peers our support, the easier it will be for all of us.