Portal Astrology

Unwrapping my personal experience with admissions speculation


Photo by Petr Sidorov | Used with permission (Unsplash)

Alex Zhang, Staff Writer

“Login with your net ID to see if you can register for new student days,” I mutter aloud, carefully reading the College Confidential forum. I glance over at the clock, 1 a.m. Tearing my eyes away, I re-read the forum and watch live updates from like-minded night owls. I frantically searched for any clues about the much awaited college admissions. 

Among the many other students who desperately await their college results, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve spent countless nights deep diving through the internet in search of possible clues about admission. As I crawled through Reddit and searched for the most bizarre hints, I was surprised to find an entire subculture of high school students who shared a common interest: portal astrology, which is the speculation of whether certain indicators on your college portal mean a favorable or unfavorable result. In the weeks leading up to my decision, I fell deeper and deeper down this rabbit hole. 

My initial introduction to this confusing new world was actually through a link that several of my friends sent to me. Naive and curious, I quickly immersed myself in the wide variety of strategies and tips from people across the country. Walking into school and comparing what we had found served as a miniature echo chamber, amplifying our nerves and normalizing this frantic behavior.

But perhaps the biggest part of the problem was accepting the initially crushing conclusion that I couldn’t do anything but sit there and wait. Unlike a big test coming up or a final exam, where you could continue to cram all the way up to the last second, after pressing the big blue “submit” button on my common application, the only thing left for me to do was anxiously twiddle my thumbs. 

Despite having finished taking my hardest tests and carefully balancing my schedule over the last four years, somehow this felt like an entirely new challenge. Especially within the Bay Area’s own competitive culture where students are encouraged to take the initiative and look for opportunities, I irrationally feared that doing nothing meant I was somehow worsening my chances.

One night however, my dad noticed my light on and came into my room to ask how I was doing. Sitting on my bed, desperately clicking my laptop to look for any recent updates on a College Confidential forum, I realized how insane my actions probably looked. As I tried to explain the most recent portal astrology tips, my dad listened with an amused look on his face. Slowly and carefully, he explained that despite my best intentions, the only thing my search was doing right now was further stressing me out with unproven generalities that could only lead to entirely speculative conclusions. Instead of artificially inflating or crushing my hopes over a decision I could no longer change, my dad suggested I instead use the time to spend on all the fun activities I previously didn’t have time for and actually enjoy this new, liberating period of freedom. 

Training myself to look at the weeks before my decision with an entirely new mindset saved countless future hours that would have been likely wasted over portal speculation. Looking back, I wish I could tell myself that the times I spent worrying about a result that was likely made weeks ago could have been better spent with my family or watching my favorite TV shows. In truth, as fun as portal speculation might seem, the only real thing we can do is spend the time we have wisely, and speculate about ways to spend time with our family and friends rather than colleges.