THE BRIDGE TO COLLEGE
Coping Strategies While Waiting for Decisions
It’s March, and the waiting is hard.
After 17 years of growing up, after months and months of SAT preparation and testing, after writing a lot of essays, maybe experiencing a few interviews, and definitely suffering excessive anxiety over college applications, now you are waiting and waiting and waiting on results that feel like they might pre-determine your future while bringing you both unbridled joy and excruciating emotional pain.
We know; it’s unbearable. Maybe these five ideas can make things better for you.
First, re-read the application essays. Doubt comes from not only from “Is my resume good enough?” Doubt also arises from “Did I do a good enough job on my applications?” Chances are those essays you wrote and re-wrote, over and over, turned out to be rather good. Read them again. Erase that lurking sense of uncertainty over your work. You might even enjoy what you wrote!
Second, stay healthy. Eat right, be sure to get ample sleep, and definitely get a little more exercise. Physical health leads to mental health. Even the effort of exercise effectively clears the mind and distracts from the parade of horribles that is relentlessly marching around in your head.
Third, do something for yourselves. Take a trip, or a long weekend. Plan and host a game night, a bowling outing, a concert, an evening at a comedy club, or go out to dinner and just have fun. Don’t wait for some college decision to improve your life, and don’t let their slow decision process steal your energy and your positive state-of-mind. Live!
Fourth, prepare for the worst. Parents should plan ahead about what to say and how to act when a decision is not favorable. Will you be ready if your child doesn’t want to talk? How will you know if they want a hug, or don’t? Do they want you there when they open the computer portal to see the decision? Can you hold your composure and be a role model? How do you watch your child to see when their moods and needs change? Also, students should think about how to congratulate friends and other families who got better results than you did (even if you don’t think they deserved their admissions offers).
Yet also prepare for the best. How do you act in front of those who did not get their first-choice schools? Whom should you thank, and how, for helping you with your success? Acknowledge the parents, teachers, counselors, tutors, consultants, friends, and whomever else helped you achieve your goals. Be your best.
Finally, recognize that college admissions decisions are neither the end of the world nor the guarantee of a successful future. These are not societal evaluations of your worth. They are merely decisions made by educational institutions about what is best for the institution, rendered at a time when some students have matured more quickly than others. College is an education, not an award. Your future has not happened yet.
Will you step forward and utilize all the assets of your school? Will you pick your courses wisely? Will you seek out the professors for more than just a little bit of explanation about what was said in class? Will you use the libraries as more than just study halls? Will you bother to step into the museums? Will you find your clubs and your campus groups? Will you maximize what is off campus? Perhaps most importantly, will you be a good friend and a good person? Make those human connections that will change your life.
Yes, the waiting is hard. College decisions may feel like the culmination of a young life, but just as high school graduation is called “commencement,” this is just the beginning.
We wish you good luck in achieving your favorite schools, but we also wish to congratulate you, not for what you have accomplished, but for what you will accomplish. Thank you for the amazing things you are about to do.
Robert LeVine is the founder and CEO of University Consultants of America, an independent educational consultancy assisting students around the world with applications to colleges, universities and graduate schools. For more information, call University Consultants of America, Inc. at 1-800-465-5890 or visit www.universitycoa.com