Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

After months of backbreaking–er, keyboard-smashing, effort, you’ve finalized your college apps and sent them away. You’ve remembered to submit your SAT scores and you’ve filled out the soul-sucking FAFSA and CSS Profile. So…now what? The only option seems to wait around every second of every minute of every hour of every day contemplating the possible outcome of every single application, but even the slightest hint of common sense can tell you that that’s a horrible coping strategy. Ladies and gentlemen, the name of the game here is distraction until capital-D Decision Day and I’m here to tell you how to carry it out. The following subjects of focus should do a decent job of keeping your mind off your email inbox and on maintaining sanity.

Organize Your Life

We all know you haven’t really ever organized your desk in the four years that you’ve used it. So, as your high school career is winding down, why not start digging through your clutter and tackling it once and for all? Start with your office or whatever you use as your office space, and tackle your papers first. Yes, those papers–the mountains of biology worksheets, calculus quizzes, and history notebooks that currently occupy all livable space in your cramped corner of the house. Choose which things to toss, shred, or file (in case you might reference them later). Gather up your old AP prep books and either donate them to a grateful junior or see if your school’s guidance office could use them (for other students to use free of charge). Then, hunt down all the stray pens that have made a home behind your speakers and the empty ink cartridges that currently live behind your printer. Get your desk drawers in order and consider cleaning your computer monitor for the first time in seven months. Organization tips can be found with a simple Google search, and Lifehack and Buzzfeed have pretty regular lists of unique ways to keep your space neat and tidy.

Now it’s time for some digital spring cleaning. Go through your computer libraries and sort out four years of wayward documents. I personally like to put them all into a “School” folder, and then break them up into “Freshman,” “Sophomore,” “Junior,” and “Senior” folders inside. Delete any that you obviously won’t need anymore (sorry, Christmas list from 2009) and then clean out your Recycle Bin.

If you’re an image hoarder like moi, sort out your Pictures folder, too, creating separate folders for your hilarious GIFs, your favorite pictures of Grumpy Cat, and photos from your actual life. I also recommend an iTunes/Spotify overhaul, because let’s face it: you can only listen to Call Me Maybe so many times post-2013. Now, take a moment to put all this information on an external hard drive–trust me, when your computer eventually draws its last technological breath while you’re away from home, you’ll thank me.

Finally, take this opportunity to organize your myriad social media accounts. You can finally unfriend everyone you naively connected with during freshman year orientation and…well…haven’t interacted with since. You can stop receiving notifications from your awkward uncle Steve and unlike the 678 pages you followed sophomore year. Just imagine the streamlined, uncluttered newsfeed. Beautiful.

Finally Understand Society’s Water Cooler Topics

I don’t know about you guys, but my obliviousness to current events, especially of the awards and sporting variety, are pathetic–really, exceptionally terrible. And as I understand it, I’m not alone. So, instead of panicking over your admissions decisions, why not put in a little effort to appear somewhat athletically capable at your neighbor’s Super Bowl party this year? I know, I know, football makes little to no sense for those of us who never tossed the ball around as kids, but the internet is here to help. The NFL has a beginner’s guide to football and How Stuff Works has its own complete guide to the Super Bowl. Keep an eye on ESPN for current information on, y’know, which two teams are actually playing in the championship this year and to get an idea of which one you should side with. If you’re still completely flummoxed after checking those out, your best bet is to find a knowledgeable sportsman/sportswoman during the party and cling to him/her for dear life.

Once admissions crunch time really hits, so will March Madness, another major sporting event you can immerse yourself in. Now, as March Madness involves college basketball teams, please do the smart thing and resist every urge you have to support a college to which you applied. Yes, even if that college is a powerhouse like the University of Virginia. If you’re not a regular watcher of basketball, How Stuff Works has your back yet again with a helpful guide. And if you’re feeling lucky, consider filling out a bracket this year.

For those of you already athletically inclined, I present to you film awards season. If you thought the Academy Awards were the only major trophy-distributor around, think again. This year, be on your A-game not just for the Oscars, but for the British Academy Film Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, and many more (CNN has a handy guide right here). Try to get out and see the nominated films now that you’re done with your mind-numbing college essays, and keep an eye on nominees and their chances. Make sure you check out the mind-blowing red carpet gowns and keep tissues nearby for the more heartfelt thank-you speeches. And when the Oscars do roll around, make sure you fill out your own ballot and see how well your tastes match up with the Academy’s–it’s like a bracket for movie addicts.

Treat Yo Self

I don’t think I need to tell you how satisfying (and distracting) starting a new television series on Netflix is, but I will. In my time of need, countless episodes of 30 Rock delivered me from hours of angst. And it can do the same for you. Favorites among second-semester seniors everywhere include House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, American Horror Story, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and the Walking Dead…which isn’t to forgot old comedy standbys, such as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Scrubs, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and How I Met Your Mother. The Netflix queue is your oyster, prospies. Take advantage of it.

If, after several Netflix marathons, you still have the energy to do something as intellectually engaging as read, I applaud you. After all, immersing yourself in a fictional universe for a while will keep college stress at bay. Sites like What Should I Read Next and Tumblr blogs like this one can help recommend books similar to your very favorites.

Dare I Say It, Get Ahead?

Get ready to knock out some college credit with (or, at least pass) your AP exams. Stock up on your prep book brand of choice and start reviewing a little bit every day. Not only will you get your mind off upcoming college decisions, but also the horrific feeling of dread when April rolls around and you haven’t begun your review yet (AKA: the feeling Beth Watson feels every year like clockwork due to her truly awe-inspiring procrastination).

While you’re potentially freeing up time for electives in next year’s class schedule, get a head start on crafting your college wardrobe (as if you haven’t already). If you’re probably moving to a chilly climate for college, consider stocking up now on boots, puffy coats, and other winter accessories to keep you cozy during the frigid fall and winter. Because let’s face it, your college hoodie can only keep you warm for so long. While you’re out and about, you can also start thinking about designing your dorm. Don’t go overkill, as a lot of handy dorm accessories don’t show up in stores until around July, but don’t be afraid to grab that comforter at Target or Pottery Barn you’ve been coveting for months. Again, glorious dorm organization guides are just a google search away, and they show up pretty frequently on Buzzfeed and the Tumblrsphere.

There you have it, folks–three foolproof ways to get your mind off the agonizing college decision wait. I hope they serve you well in the coming months.



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the author

Elizabeth Watson (just call her Beth) is a senior at an itty-bitty private Catholic high school in Virginia. In addition to writing for The Prospect, she writes and performs sketch comedy with her improv troupe, rehearses like mad for school theatre productions, suits up for forensics competitions, and writes poetry for her school’s literary magazine. A brief rundown of Beth’s favorite people and things ever to exist in no particular order: hole-in-the-wall bookshops, sweaters, Jane Eyre, peppermint tea (in a Troy and Abed mug, of course), Broadway musicals, British period dramas, Neil Patrick Harris, and Hugh Jackman. Beth’s long-term goal in life to is to become Julie Andrews, but for now she’s focusing on surviving the final stretch of high school and getting into college–hopefully as an English major

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