The No Bragging Rule

May 11th, 2012 by Andrea Bennett

Schools are trying to minimize disappointment, but not everyone agrees.

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The Responsibility Project

By this time in the school year, most college-bound high school seniors know where they’ll be heading in the fall. It’s a rite of passage for those who have been accepted to do a little bragging – or a lot. The ultimate “I got in” status symbol, notes a recent article in The New York Post, is the sweatshirt bearing their future college’s name.

But as the Post reports, concerned prep schools are trying to “ease the blow of a student’s first big rejection” by instituting dress codes and Facebook guidelines that will stifle the boasting and avoid hurting their classmates’ feelings. At the Horace Mann School in Manhattan, which charges $40,000 per year and is well-known for its ability to get kids into Ivy League schools, students are not allowed to wear college apparel until after May 1, when most students have settled on the college they’ll attend. And at the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights, students have been told not to update Facebook with their university news until the school year is out.

Darby McHugh, college coordinator at Bronx High School of Science, told the Post, “We send a notice out to all faculty telling them, ‘Please don’t congratulate students in public, no high fives, no hugging, and please be sensitive so that if you see someone crying, you refer them to the college-adviser office immediately.’”

“Is this a joke?” asks Babble blogger Danielle Smith. “The very teachers who spend their days and many nights grading papers doing everything they can to help these students achieve the dreams of attending certain schools aren’t allowed to congratulate them because it might hurt feelings??”

Plus, adds Julie Ryan Evans at The Stir, kids should get used to rejection because they’ll have plenty more. Not only are the new rules “insulting to everyone involved,” she says, “It’s no way to prepare for the real world in which they will be passed over for promotions, lose out on jobs, and not always get a bonus as big as their coworkers. That’s life.”

But my bet is that plenty of parents would like their kids to be sheltered just a little bit from one of life’s earliest major rejections. Where do you stand on this? Should schools let kids crow about their acceptance, or spare the less victorious a little agony?