It's an Amazon Prime World!

It's an Amazon Prime World! 

Matthew J. DeGreeff
Dean of College Counseling and Student Enrichment
Middlesex School

With Boston, our nearby neighbor, competing with 238 other cities to be HQ2 for Amazon, I was inspired to dust off a short essay that I started two years ago for the ACCIS blog. 

On the Friday night before a major early deadline, I received an email from one of my seniors wanting to know why her early action college had not received her SAT scores, recommendations, school forms, transcript, and school profile. She had just submitted her application, and she expected everything to be in her “admissions portal” that very instant.  Her current application status was unacceptable! I gently reminded her that it takes time to match electronic records, as well as the eye-opening fact that admissions offices do not work on Saturdays and Sundays. I gently suggested that she had to be patient and wait for everything to come together the following week, well after the November 1st deadline. After this exchange, the first of many over the weekend, it struck me that our students have a different set of expectations around timing, feedback, and deliverable goods in their relationships with websites. I call it the “Amazon Prime Effect.” 

We exist in a world where we can order a Pokemon Sun Nintendo 3DS for our child and have it arrive the next day in our mailbox. Websites like Amazon and Zappos offer us instant gratification for our shopping urges, and frankly they have made our lives easier. Uber drivers arrive within minutes of opening the app on your phone, and we can monitor the drivers as they get closer and closer to us. There is no question that this generation of students is used to immediate connections with their possessions, as well as their peers via texting, Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram (they don’t actually speak to anyone if they can avoid it!). Our students have an expectation that the rest of the world behaves in this consumer nirvana where access to almost anything or anyone you want is at your fingertips. 

This also promotes what I call the “unbearable lightness of waiting.” For most teenagers, their perception of the college process is that each student has only one chance to apply to that dream school, and that which occurs in his or her process occurs only once and never again. Well, I might be stretching Milan Kundera’s take on humanity, but it is a natural time for teenagers to focus on themselves and to find waiting for any step of the process to be painful and archaic.  

Patience and kindness are two virtues that college counselors have to practice every day, particularly as we face the pressures of the early application season, and by our actions and our words we teach our students (and their parents) that being patient with themselves and the process and expressing kindness towards others makes a difference in how the college process unfolds for the student.  Fortunately, we are not judged on every transaction by Amazon’s five star rating scale.  Rather, we know we are doing our work well when we can get our students to calm down, take a deep breath, and realize that everything has been sent and that they will get a fair reading by their early college.  

Share this post: