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Surviving the Wait for News: How to Make the Most of the Time Between Applying and Attending

Whether you applied early action, early decision, or regular admission, the relief students feel after finally submitting their applications is palpable but short-lived. Quickly, it is replaced by anticipation, nervousness, and a waiting game that can feel endless even if it only lasts a couple weeks in some cases. 

Students (not to mention their families and supporters) have poured so much energy into condensing their essence into a few pages for strangers to evaluate. Once the applications are sent in, their fate is largely out of the student’s hands. Admissions officers lock themselves into committee rooms and deliberate over the merits of scores of talented, passionate students. The emotional rollercoaster that ensues can be trying for everyone. 

But the good news is that, like so many before you, you can survive the wait and continue to thrive. You aren’t obligated to be stressed out!

Keep reading for our tips on how to maintain a proper perspective and keep a positive attitude as you wait for news about where you’ll spend the next portion of your educational career. 

Continue to Invest in Your Extracurricular Commitments

One surefire way to avoid undue anxiety while waiting for news is to stay busy. Distract yourself from the temptation to obsess over information that will come before too long by pouring your energy into causes that matter to you.

Chances are you’ve had to cut back on your extracurricular commitments—either eliminating some altogether or curbing the time you spend actively engaged in them—to complete your applications. Now that you’ve accomplished that, you can redirect your mental resources back into the clubs, organizations, and experiences that matter to you. 

Make a point this semester to mentor younger students in a group you belong to, sharing the wisdom and passion you’ve acquired over the years. Create an easier path for them to step up and take the activity to a new level.

Or take a chance and try something new. Second semester senior year is a perfect, low-stakes moment in your life to try a new activity without worrying about how successful you’ll immediately be. Perhaps it’s a new foreign language. Maybe it’s learning slight-of-hand magic. Or, it could be volunteering at a local public library for the first time. By staying involved you will enjoy your time much more, contribute to the happiness and nourishment of others, and speed up the time until your admissions news starts to trickle in. 

Continue to Give Maximum Effort in Class

Just because your applications have been submitted doesn’t mean that your school year is over. Your classes still matter, and it’s important you continue to give maximum effort in them. As tempting as it may be to fall into the trap of senioritis, you must keep pushing forward to the finish line. 

I know, I know—everyone around you is starting to slack off; but there are a couple great reasons not to join them. First, any college that might put you on the waitlist will be interested in your current grades before they make their ultimate decision. If you have maintained or improved upon your classroom performance, they are more likely to take you seriously as a candidate. Remember, the process isn’t over until your final transcript has been submitted, so there should still be motivation to demonstrate your ability all the way to the end.

Secondly, it is more difficult to reignite ambition that’s been turned off. You’ll want to start college on your best note, but if you’ve been out of practice in regard to caring about school for months, there will be a sharper adjustment curve.

Have you ever tried to run a mile after not training for a while? If so, you understand how much more acute that burning in your lungs is and how much heavier your legs feel than if you had maintained your training regimen. Learning is the same way. Keep your intellectual muscles sharp and growing stronger by staying engaged academically. As an added bonus, when you pour yourself into your work, there is less time to obsess over an admissions decision that may still be a couple months away.  

Replace App Writing Time with Mind-Refreshing Time

Without personal statements, supplemental essays, activity lists, and the other components of your application to perfect, there will be more time in your day-to-day schedule. Repurpose some of that time to activities that refresh your mind and rejuvenate your energy.

Consider adding mindfulness meditation or some other form of relaxation to your routine. Even a few conscious minutes a day will help regulate your stress levels and prepare you better to deal with the waiting game. 

Now that you’ve improved your writing so much, why not continue building on it? Start a journal or blog and share your thoughts; even if no one reads it but you, you’ll appreciate the creative outlet. Maybe you’re an artist who has become burned out from curating your portfolio. Now that it’s in and the pressure is off, find a way to get back to your medium with refreshed eyes. What would you create if just for yourself?

Other ideas you can try to include:

  • Read a book for pleasure, even if only a few pages daily. 
  • Start your morning with a walk or light exercise.
  • Schedule time with friends to hang out and unplug from electronic devices. 
  • Learn a new skill just for fun.

Recharging the battery is crucial for maintaining a proper perspective. Find locations that bring you peace and calm, and/or fill you with a sense of purpose. Then be intentional about seeking experiences that lower your anxiety and refresh your mind as opposed to ones that tax it constantly. When you make time to care about your own mental health, you’ll be better equipped to help others as well. 

Avoid the Trap of Constant Checking 

You will be tempted to check every day for updates, information, and news about your future. And while you should stay on top of the process, this approach will only amplify your anxiety and paralyze you from enjoying what is happening around you in the moment. Avoid the urge to perpetually refresh your browser or visit your mailbox expecting new information. 

Most colleges are forthright about when they plan to release information and do their best to be punctual. Identify this info for each school you’ve applied to and add it to your calendar. Then discipline yourself to only check around those times.

We strongly suggest that you avoid checking your email at school during the day. Not only does this compromise your ability to learn (and your classmates’ ability to pay attention), it feeds into the frenzied emotions surrounding your admissions decisions. 

Remember, your decision is personal. It doesn’t need to be shared with the entire school (certainly not in real-time). With an entire building full of 12th graders all in the same predicament, it’s easy for tensions in school to overflow and for the waiting period to be more stressful than necessary. But you can rise above this energy and guard your mental health simply by being intentional with when and where you search for information. 

Be Honest with Your Support System

It’s OK that you’re struggling to survive the waiting game. If you weren’t nervous or didn’t care, that would be abnormal. You should never feel like you have to bear the weight of this time in your life by yourself. Lean on your support system, especially the adults who’ve been through it before and care about your success and happiness. 

Be vocal when you’re having a bad day. If you have questions about what the right next steps are, ask them. If you need help completing a task or setting priorities straight, speak up before the situation gets more difficult to handle. 

Although you’re the one who will be attending college, this is not a solo process. You have allies dedicated to your success. Your parents, teachers, and counselors are all firmly on your team. Allow them to support you by being open to their ideas and honest when you need something. Mastering this level of self-advocacy will also benefit you while in college, where you will need to form new relationships with advisors, professors, and mentors. 

We hope that you’ll have many great college options once the waiting game is over. You’re almost there! Keep a positive attitude and trust that the process will work itself out how it’s supposed to, especially because you’ve put in the work to create thoughtful, reflective applications that celebrate your efforts and accomplishments throughout your high school career. 

The expert admissions consultants at Wise World Prep have helped hundreds of students maximize their potential of being admitted to their top choice colleges and universities. Over 20 years, we have successfully guided students through each stage of the application process – from choosing competitive high school courses to building an appropriate college list to drafting winning essays to writing persuasive update and appeals letters. We would be happy to answer your questions and partner with you to create a successful admissions roadmap.

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