Decision season is fast approaching for the class of 2019, which is really exciting, but also quite nerve-wracking. When waiting for such important news, it can be difficult to control your outlook. Some people are inherently optimistic while others (perhaps most) are preoccupied with deciding how to cope when the bad news comes. Others still may feel very neutral and are able to not think about the pending decisions until they actually arrive. While these outlooks may seem hard to control, it is useful to know which one you have, its pros and cons, and how to prepare.
Are you confident, even assuming that you will get into your top choice and maybe every place you applied? Then you are a lovely optimist. This comes with some major pros like not being a nail-biting mess when there is nothing more you can do about the decision. You did your best, all you can do is wait, and so you may as well do so with confidence. Additionally, some believe that you often fulfill your own prophecy, so if you expect the best that may be the reason it happens. Of course, if things do not work out, you are faced with the major con of bad news with no backup plan. Bad news when you are not expecting it can be tough to handle, and it makes it difficult to accept the next best option.
If you are overall optimistic about the college decision that is great, but try to take some time to come up with a hierarchy of your other colleges that you are comfortable with. This way, if you do get bad news, you have a schema that you can fall back on to make the best decision possible!
If you feel rather confident that you will not get the news you are hoping for in the coming weeks and are generally grim about your other prospects, you are probably a pessimist. The pros of the outlook are that you feel prepared for any bad news and have numerous backup plans in its likely arrival. Additionally, if you do get good news you feel on top of the world from the joy and happy surprise. Unfortunately, and I can tell you from experience, the con of being a pessimist is that even though you expect bad news, it still really hurts when you get it. Most likely some part of you was at least hoping for a positive outcome, and there is no way to feel good when it does not happen. Let’s not forget the additional weeks or months you spent despairing about the bad news before it even came.
My advice to the pessimists out there is to try as much as possible to put the decision out of mind. Expect bad news if you must, but do not ruminate over it. Acknowledge that expecting bad news does not make you feel much better when you get it, and leave some room in your schedule to feel bad and think of ways to cheer up, like getting excited about other schools on your list!
I envy those people out there who manage not to obsess over the upcoming decisions for weeks on end. Enjoy the wonderful pro of not thinking about something you have no power over and live that wonderful second semester senior life! The cons of this blissful freedom are that you cannot be sure how you will take bad news or what you will do if it comes. The other con is that you risk falling into one of the two other categories at some point, which comes with their own set of negatives.
To combat this, take some time just before decisions come out to come up with a plan of schools you really hope to get into, what you will still be excited to get into, and so on. That way, if you do end up with a particular, obsessive outlook, it will only be for a short period of time, and you will still have a idea of what you want to do with whatever news you receive.