POV: You are scrolling through your Instagram and see a new follow request. You open it up and see it is a fellow incoming student. Oh, no big deal if I accept one request. That’s what you think, but before you know it, there are 50 new follow requests. Then you start wondering, where are all these requests coming from? Then it hits you, people have been searching you up on DAinfo.
You fast forward to Camp Becket, everyone is already in friend groups, you have already been judged according to how many Instagram followers you have, there are 50 different class Snapchat groups you are a part of, and you are only known by your Instagram handle @XÆA-12.
Do you feel lost? Was this the first experience you were looking for when you arrived at Deerfield? Didn’t Deerfield pride itself on its heads up policies and face to face interactions? Didn’t you think the first couple days of school were made for getting to know your classmates instead of strengthening the cliques made on social media?
Unfortunately, for many incoming ninth graders with high hopes and romanticized views of Deerfield, these expectations are to be crushed no matter how much Camp Becket or grade bonding activities Deerfield offers. This is because this problem isn’t on campus. It occurs online. Allowing incoming students to access DAinfo, the administration creates the problem far before the start of the first day of school. ts.
We have all been there, we were all excited to receive the acceptance email from Deerfield and choose the road of green for the next four years. Then, just as quickly, we immediately wanted to know the other one hundred students who would be joining us for our highschool career. This is, after all, just human nature, and is seemingly harmless in the short term; however, its true impacts are clear once students arrive on campus and the reality is vastly different from what they expected.
Releasing DAinfo before school starts is detrimental in developing true relationships within the class. Remember that as an incoming ninth grader, you have yet to truly meet anyone– and “meeting” them online is definitely not the first step to creating a true connection. If you choose the Snapchat route, all you get is pictures of each other’s ceilings and one lined texts. And if you are lucky, you may just win the social media lottery and get a photo of half their face without a filter. If your preferred medium of social media is Instagram, it becomes even harder to interpret someone’s true personality because the only things you can base your assumptions off of is someone’s caption creativity and hashtag use.
This first impression you get online is not only ingenuine but it also ruins the true experience of meeting someone in person. Even when we purposely try to not base our opinions of someone solely off of their online status, the number of followers someone has, the look of someone’s Instagram feed, or even where they are from, all play into our subconscious thoughts… In turn, making generalized assumptions on people’s socioeconomic status and background could also impact your decisions later on and even influence who you want to be friends with at school. When we have access to our classmates’ social media before meeting them in real life, we create unrealistic expectations for them that are bound to be derailed after arriving on campus.
Giving incoming students access to DAinfo encourages them to get to know each other on social media before doing so in person, which contradicts the school’s traditional values. One of the biggest things Deerfield prides itself on is its heads-up policies and its face to face interactions. However, releasing DAinfo early gives incoming freshmen both the incentive and the ability to know their peers without meeting them in person.
“Deerfield Academy prepares students for leadership in a rapidly changing world.”
Deerfield’s mission statement centers on creating leaders that can communicate their ideas effectively in person. We have to reconsider the message that Deerfield spreads when it allows students to get to know others online instead of in person. Although coming to campus without an established friend group might seem daunting, this is what Deerfield has to encourage if they want to continue fostering leaders.
As long as DAinfo access is still given to incoming ninth graders before the school year begins, no amount of on-campus interactions will make a difference. Deerfield should try to set up all incoming ninth graders on the same playing field by removing the opportunity for them to become “friends” before their arrival, thus helping to create a collective sense of solidarity among them. Although there are other factors such as siblings or certain towns that Deerfield draws more students from, the school has to try its best to eliminate any other factors that will create immediate disparities within the incoming class. The most obvious place for Deerfield to start is to just disable DAinfo for 9th graders before getting to campus.
It is human nature that kids will want to get to know one another ahead of time. Deerfield needs to be aware of this and consider how releasing information on DAinfo to incoming students prior to their arrival will negatively impact their first experiences on campus. Incoming ninth graders still might not have the insight yet to understand that face to face interactions are the best way of getting to know someone new. Until then, the school has to take responsibility and limit the amount of communication before getting to school.
Deerfield, it’s time to consider when our experience really starts. It doesn’t start when you put “DA” in your bio — it starts when we make our first true connection in your halls and classes. Remember, followers are great, but patience is also great, and if you wait until you’re on campus, the followers will still be there. In fact, I might even follow you, because in my humble opinion, a pretty personality trumps a pretty Instagram feed.