It’s that time of year: essays are done, first quarter grades are finalized, and applications are (nearly) all submitted—you’ve applied to college. At this point, the hard work is done, but now comes the most nerve-wracking part of it all: waiting.
Everyone approaches the waiting game differently. Some people have no trouble staying even-keeled during this limbo period. If you’re anything like me, though, your head is spinning. I’ve noticed four phases of the waiting game:
1. “Why can’t they just tell me right away?!” After spending months working on your applications, you’re emotionally invested. You want to know right now. Why doesn’t this school offer rolling admissions? How can I possibly wait this long? Why can’t they tell me tomorrow? The frustration is real—but it’s only the beginning.
2. “I’m literally never going to find out.” If you’re doing early decision, you have to wait a solid month to find out. For regular decision applicants, it’s more like four. You’ll definitely have the feeling that years will pass before there’s any news from your school.
3. “This just got real.” Finally, you’ll receive a date. Though the day may be weeks or months away, it’s finally concrete, something to mark on your calendar and get anxious for.
4. “Panic sets in.” Around a week before decision day, the real jitters will set in. This is when your stress levels will run highest, and these nerves can have a notable effect on your body, causing anything from from sleepless nights to endless daydreaming in class. No matter how you’re affected, waiting is a nuisance. And although there’s really only one solution to this anxiety (decision day, of course), there are a few ways you can manage the anxiety of the final stretch.
The Week Before:
1. Stay busy. Whether it’s with schoolwork, family, or friends, fill up your time. It’ll make the week go by tons quicker.
2. Check your calendar. The day that my early decision came out, I had an orchestra rehearsal at 5:15. With my luck, decisions came out at 5:00pm. I decided to check before rehearsal, but it’s important that you plan your day ahead knowing what’s best for you; will you have to wait until after your commitments to check your decision? Looking ahead will give you a small bit of control over this often erratic process.
The Day Of
1. Do little things that make you happy. Eat your favorite breakfast or lunch, wear your favorite outfit, get coffee with a friend after school. Small distractions like this are a way to focus on something else, if only for a minute.
2. Listen to a calming mixtape. This was my favorite way to stay relaxed. A few days before my decision, an older friend of mine made me a CD of songs that had an easygoing vibe. I put them on as I went to sleep the night before and listened to them when I got home from school. They calmed me down and reminded me that a close friend was thinking of me during my stressful time.
3. Make it about you. If you don’t want your parents in the room when you check your decision, tell them. If you want to listen to “Party in the USA” as you log on to the portal (guilty as charged), do it. You are, quite simply, the center of attention right now.
4. Make plans for afterwards. Perhaps you want a celebratory dinner with your parents if things work out, or maybe you want an impromptu junk food party with your friends if things go the other way. Either way, it’s nice to have an idea of what you’re going to do after your decision comes out.
There’s no denying that waiting for decisions is a downright aggravating time. For some, it may help to remember that the decision is out of your control at this point; you’ve done everything you could, and worrying will do nothing. If this fatalistic attitude scares you, remember that your application is the best reflection of you, and regardless of what the decision is, your work is impressive in itself. When it comes down to it, you’ll end up with an acceptance to somewhere that you belong.