Survive the College Application Waiting Game with Tried-and-True Tips

For many high school seniors, the winter months mark the conclusion of a hectic season of applying to college and the beginning of an equally nerve-wracking waiting game. Will you be accepted to the college or university of your dreams? When, exactly, will you hear back from your schools? And what should you do in the meantime to distract yourself?

In this Freshman Flashback, we spoke via email with four individuals at various stages in their higher education journey. Below, they shared their tried-and-true tips for surviving the college application waiting game.

[Read: Rolling Admissions: 10 Frequently Asked Questions.]

Focus on preparatory activities. Alexandra Denault, a first-year graduate student at Brenau University, acknowledged that waiting for an admissions decision was difficult. In order to cope with the “great deal of worry and anxiousness” she felt, Denault focused on preparing for college. “I read countless articles on ‘what to expect in college’ and ‘how to survive your first year at college,'” she says. She also sought out advice and insight from older friends who had already started their college journeys.

Denault’s sister, Catherine Floyd, adopted a similar approach. A dual-enrollment freshman at Georgia Gwinnett College, Floyd toured the institution multiple times, “just to get familiar with the campus.” She likewise frequently met with her guidance counselor to discuss potential course options for her remaining time in high school.

How can you apply this mentality to your own waiting period? Floyd advises identifying productive uses of your time. Perhaps this means researching potential majors at your short list of colleges or intensifying your scholarship search — “Anything academic to ease the stress.”

Reinvest in your family relationships and friendships. Anna Booman, a first-year graduate student at Harvard University, chose to cope with the uncertainty of this time period by “spending as much time as possible with friends and family.” Booman recognized that she would see less of her family and friends once college began, and so she “tried to get as much time with them as I could.”

[Read: 5 Ways to Prepare to Attend an Out-of-State College.]

Kaitlyn Lineberry also prioritized time with her friends. In addition to remaining active with color guard and other extracurriculars like yearbook, she “took more time to hang out with my friends, something I hadn’t been doing much of since the beginning of my junior year when I started to take AP classes.” Now a graduate student at the University of Alabama, Lineberry “focused less on school during this time period and more on having fun, which definitely was a good distraction.”

While it is important to remain current on schoolwork and other commitments — in Denault’s words, “don’t forget to push yourself and do what you need to do” — remaining positive and enjoying life are also critical while waiting for a college admissions decision. Booman emphasizes the importance of doing “anything that makes you happy,” whether that means reading a favorite book series, watching a movie with friends, or pursuing a new extracurricular in your final semester.

[Read: 3 Tips for Surviving College Application Season.]

“Please take time for yourself, be kind to yourself,” Denault says. “Whether that means getting ahead, or just getting through the day. Know your own limits, don’t break yourself, but don’t give up.”

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