Image from IsoRepublic.

Image from IsoRepublic.

I started collecting fortune cookies during my senior year, when I was working in a Chinese restaurant as a hostess. Every day, customers would drop their fortunes on the ground, and I would pick them up in hopes of finding advice for my latest college application conundrum (and also, you know, not getting fired, since cleaning was a pretty significant part of the job).

Today, I have a bulletin board full of fortunes, from which I picked the fourteen most applicable to college applicants. If you’re in need of wisdom that only a cookie can provide, look no further.

Fortunes for Tweaking Your College List

“The wise thing to do is to prepare for the unexpected.”

Few students go into the application season knowing exactly how it will all turn out, so it’s good to be prepared–with a fair number of safeties, in case you’re unexpectedly rejected from your reach schools, and some reaches, in case you’re unexpectedly accepted to one of them. Check out this article by Barclay Sparrow on avoiding only getting accepted to one college (and how to deal with it if you can’t avoid it).

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”

At the same time, you shouldn’t apply to so many schools that you can’t focus on your applications. Your safeties are useless if you’re only giving 5% in each of your applications.

Fortunes for Filling Out Applications

“A new challenge is near.”

Common App season is here, and look! It brought friends: Terror. Stress. So much more crying than you might think is acceptable of a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old.

“Saturdays are good days for taking care of chores.”

You can work on your college apps every Saturday, if you’re really serious about your fortune slips, but this is probably best viewed as a reminder to keep on top of your college application “chores.” Don’t leave your supplements for the last minute because, honestly, they’ll be terrible. Don’t wait until the day before the deadline to ask your teachers for recommendations because they might have to say “No.”

“Give time and thought to all that you do.”

If you’re going to rush an essay for a school the night before it’s due, you might as well not apply–even if it’s your safety. If you really want to get into a school, you need to put your best foot forward; otherwise, you’ve already reduced your chances.

“Ulcers are what you get for forgetting your stomach.”

On the flip side, don’t work so hard that you forget to take care of yourself. Take a break to eat, drink some water, or do a few sit-ups. College is important, but you can’t get into college if you’re too stressed to function.

“Your road to glory will be rocky but fulfilling.”

Yes, it will be tough, but at the end of the day, you’ll have the grand prize: a college acceptance!

Fortunes for Decision Time

“Action is worry’s worst enemy.”

Decisions take forever, and the worry kicks in pretty immediately after you send in your application. Find something else to occupy your mind! Check out this high school bucket list for a few ideas.

“Your talents will be recognized and suitably rewarded.”

You will get into college. You might get rejected by your dream school, you might get rejected by some schools that you thought were safeties, but somewhere, there is a school that will “recognize” and “reward” your talents with admission (and hopefully some decent financial aid).

“Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.”

In eighty years, nobody will care or remember where you got accepted. They’ll remember the way you treated other people, especially during this crazy time. Don’t judge people. Don’t make assumptions. Treat everyone around you with sympathy.

Fortunes for Your Decision Time

“The cost of something is what you give up to get it.”

Once all your colleges’ decisions are in, it’s time for you to decide where you’re going. Figure out the costs of everywhere that accepted you. (If you’re having trouble, this is kind of why The Real College Checklist exists.)

“There is excitement to be found wherever you go.”

No school that accepted you is just a giant garbage can. No matter where you choose, there will be something there to excite you.

“Look for happiness and you will find it.”

Again, it’s really all in the attitude. If you want to find something to love about your school, you’ll find it.

And A Fortune for Any Time

“The course of life is unpredictable…no one can write his autobiography in advance.”

No matter where you are in this process, relax. Breathe. I’m not saying that where you go to college doesn’t matter, but it’s not the decision that determines the course of the rest of your life. Regardless of the choices you’ve made thus far, you still have so many more choices to make–and so many more cookies to consult.

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the author

Gabrielle Scullard hails from suburban Arizona, where she is a senior at a public high school. She spends most of her life taking AP classes and crying about her future. When she is not stressing out about school, she plays viola (it’s like a violin but better) and signs in an American Sign Language choir (it’s like a vocal choir but better). She wants to be a superhero, but an internship at The Prospect is basically the same thing. She hopes her writing can help someone or, at least, make someone smile. You can find her on her Tumblr or at home, but she would prefer it if you didn't do either of those things.

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