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The Best Ivy Day Reaction Videos

It's Harvard, obv (photo: Getty Images)
It's Harvard, obv (photo: Getty Images)
By Danica Lo
April 08, 2021
College decision reaction videos are an annual tradition as old as, well, YouTube—and this year's "Ivy Day" videos are just starting to trickle in

Cathartic, emotional, and filled with suspense—no, not the latest Hollywood blockbuster. I'm talking about college decision reaction videos. Time was, high school seniors rushed home every afternoon the first two weeks of April to check their mailboxes for correspondence from their top-choice universities—hefty packets would indicate acceptances and dreaded thin envelopes would mean rejections or wait lists. But it's been decades since colleges stopped shipping decisions via snail mail and, over the last ten years, not only are students finding out their fates through one-click digital portals, but many of them are filming live reaction videos to boot—and plenty of these videos have racked up millions upon millions of views on YouTube.

One of the most nerve-wracking days on the college admissions calendar each year is what's come to be known as "Ivy Day". Shifting from year to year—in 2020, it was in late March, this year it was April 6—Ivy Day is the designated decision release date coordinated across all eight Ivy League schools in the United States. It's when Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, and the University of Pennsylvania simultaneously distribute acceptance, rejection, and wait list notifications to all applicants. 

There aren't a lot of YouTube video genres where the audience can witness an authentic moment that changes the trajectory of an individual's life forever, and that's just one of the things that makes these college decision reaction videos so compelling. Most applicants open at least a handful of decisions in quick succession—sometimes they gamify the experience, like, last year, lots of videos featured a spinning wheel to randomise the order in which decisions were unveiled on-camera—and, because the college admissions process is wildly unpredictable and completely subjective, it's impossible to predict what will happen. Throw some parents, relatives, and friends into the mix and the whole palaver gets very emotional, very quickly.

Don't be surprised if you find yourself all choked up over the unexpected Princeton offer of admission to some kid you don't know. For anyone who's been in that situation before and can remember what it's like to feel the weight of parental expectations on their shoulders combined with the gravitas of being judged by a faceless committee on everything they've worked so hard to achieve up until that point—these videos, which capture a pivot point in someone's life and showcase a rollercoaster of pure joy, relief, confusion, and disappointment, feel visceral.

This year, Ivy Day happened just over 24 hours ago, and videos are still slowly being uploaded onto YouTube. I've already binged a handful, which led me down a rabbit hole of some of the most heartwarming (and heart-wrenching) videos from the last few years. Here are some of the best Ivy Day college reaction videos from the last few years—warning: get ready to laugh, cry, and feel parental pride emoting out of your screen.

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Quon Howery (2020)


thebigbradwolf (2020)


Domonique Cynthia (2018)


Yash Mahajan (2021)


Elliot Choy compilation (2019)


Iris Fu (2020)


Hannah Ahn (2020)



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