If you’ve been seeing a lot of social media posts lately of high school seniors sitting on their beds surrounded by swag from a college, it’s because their friends have thrown a “commitment party” or “bed party” to celebrate their selection of the school they’ll attend in the fall.
May 1 is college decision day, the deadline by which students must put down a deposit on their chosen institution of higher learning. And as kids make their choices, they are feted by their best friends surprising them with their college's clothing, decorated cupcakes or cake, and balloons and snack food in the colors of their school-to-be. Parents help to facilitate the surprise factor to varying degrees, letting friends in the house, making sure the teen isn’t home during the decorating, and in some cases helping to pay for the swag.
"It was very exciting," says Stephanie Zovich, 17, of New Hyde Park, who is a senior at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens and plans to attend Amherst College in Massachusetts in the fall. "I opened my door and my closest friends were there to support me."
Part of the fun, of course, is posting a photo of the party to announce your choice on Instagram (or, if mom or dad is sharing the photo, more likely Facebook). “That’s how I posted my college I committed to,” says Jen Chen, 17, of Roslyn, a senior at Herricks High School who will attend the University of Minnesota in the fall.
“Most of the time you’re on the bed and you take a picture. It’s a social media thing mostly,” says Emma Podell, 17, of North Hills, a fellow senior at Herricks High who is planning to attend Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania.
“It’s very popular now,” agrees Corin Lund, 17, a senior at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School who is committed to attend Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall. She says it’s primarily girls who throw the parties and post their photos.
“It’s a real Long Island phenomenon,” says Elizabeth Comen-Kessler of Plainview, the mom of Hallie Kessler, 17, whose friends threw her a party to mark her commitment to attend Ithaca College. Comen-Kessler says she’s in a Facebook group called College Bound, and parents from other states seem to be unaware of this New York area trend.
“Her friends were so adorable,” says Comen-Kessler. “They hid inside her room. She opened the door and they yelled surprise and congratulated her. I ordered some pizzas. It was a great night.”