Life was pretty sweet with Jen around. My husband and I could go out early and stay out late, throwing back drinks with the kind of confidence only a couple with kickass childcare can possess. Eventually, August rolled around and it was time for Jen to head back to school, which sucked for our social life. But I friended her on Facebook and followed her on Instagram and promised to keep in touch until next summer.
“Um, babe? Can you come here a minute?” It was a few weeks into October, and my husband was sitting on the family room sofa with the laptop, his face scrunched up in concentration. I walked over to see what he was looking at. “Check this out,” he said, turning the screen towards me.
And there was Jen. Our Jen. On Facebook. Holding a cigarette. Standing in front of a bong. In a crop top and booty shorts. Kissing a girl. And a boy. At the same time.
But here’s the thing. While I couldn’t click the “unfollow” button fast enough in an effort to shield myself from a no-holds-barred look at the life of a college co-ed, according to a recent article in Time, high school students across the country are happily stalking just these types of unfiltered accounts—albeit on Instagram, since that’s where they’ve since migrated—as a way to narrow down their choice of college.
As one student recently told Time, “It’s like having a tour of the school by a real student who isn’t paid to show you (around) and tell you the things the admissions office wants you to hear. It’s like you’re getting a tiny slice of that college, and it’s real and raw.”
If that just scared the shit out of you, you’re not alone. But it’s actually kind of brilliant when you consider that Instagram went live in 2010, making the class of 2015 the first to have been able to post their entire high school experience. Finding college kids who are doing the same thing is just the next obvious step. How else are they supposed to know what these kids are really up to, where they hang out, who’s got the nicest dorm rooms, and what the best night is for going out (hint: it’s usually Thursday)?
Wondering how to find one of these unsanctioned accounts? Start by checking out a school’s official Instagram feed, then click on the geotagged locations and school-specific hashtags and you’ll be rewarded with an onslaught of images posted by actual students. And if no part of that last sentence made any sense to you, maybe you should be the one thinking about applying to college. #justsayin