The Welcoming (and unwelcoming) of Class 2027

High school seniors all over the country are decorating their caps– or getting graphic designers to do it for them– and getting ready to make their way across the stage to receive their high school diplomas. While discourse continues about whether a college degree is worth it, getting into college remains an important milestone for most with 2 in 3 graduates planning to enroll in college. In recent weeks, colleges and universities nationwide sent out their decisions to applicants whipping college hopefuls- and their families- into quite a frenzy. This frenzy has sent our algorithms into overdrive, feeding endless loops of videos of high school seniors capturing the highs and lows of Decision Day. Ahead, we explore how this class of Gen Z is documenting this momentous occasion.

Man sitting at a table with his laptop holding his college acceptance letter


Every Spring, viral college acceptance videos start making the rounds, and many teens are taking to the internet to share their anxiety - and joy. The college decision reaction video is a thriving genre on TikTok - students filming themselves while they click through their online applicant portals, then filming their reactions, such as Tinaye Ngorima, who looked up all his admissions offers, having now been viewed over 25M times. Some people find these videos uplifting or at least harmless. Others suggest that they put us into categories of winners and losers and only exacerbate the already over-the-top stress students feel around college admissions.

Image of the text, "Bed Parties" written in balloons over a light blue background.


As discussed in a recent TWIVN, the bed party trend initially caught on in 2020, when graduating seniors weren’t free to gather in person to celebrate their school choice due to lockdown. The trend continues and outgoing high school students are taking it to new levels, where on Tiktok, the viral hashtag #BedParty has nearly 12M views that depict college-bound high school seniors celebrating their chosen schools. In essence, it’s a party that your friends and family have for you in your bedroom when you commit to college, with key ingredients of bed decorating abundant swag, letter or number balloons, a party curtain backdrop, color-coordinated bedding, and themed snacks. However, the trend isn’t without controversy, with discourse calling out the inequity of families that can’t afford such send-offs or due to being rejected from their dream schools.

A group of students outside celebrating and throwing confetti.


Rejection, in all forms, is disheartening and can make us feel dejected and hopeless. However, in hopes of taking the sting out of rejection, today’s seniors are changing the narrative, by throwing rejection parties. These parties, in which students get together to tout all the schools they were rejected from, are meant to celebrate the idea that "rejection is redirection" and normalize that this is just a part of life. These are especially important lessons for Gen Zs, a generation with a tendency for perfectionism, to embrace. For example, student Laura Sanchez told CBS News "It was a really good opportunity for students, including myself, to kind of forget about the rejections and celebrate the fact that we are still college bound because I know a lot of the students from our school are first-generation, low-income so I know we should celebrate, and this is a great way to do that."