How to Deal with Incoming College Decisions

Student Life

As we are quickly approaching (and some of us have already begun our) college admissions decision season, it's a good idea to calm ourselves down about the current stress we're dealing with as well as learn to be okay with certain outcomes that don't please us. These next couple months of looming decisions can feel like torture if you're waiting to hear back from your dream school, so I'm hoping to offer some insights.

The days leading up to colleges’ deadline for results can be extremely nerve-racking and there is no way around that. That being said, I can provide you a few tips on how to deal with stress and decisions. I only ask that you try to relax! If you are waiting for admissions results, things are out of your hands at this point. All that’s left is for the college to decide. It WILL be okay, and wherever you end up will be where you’re supposed to be.

Find out the Date & Time

If you know when you’re getting the decision, it will take one more unknown out of the mix, so you don’t have to stress out about when you’re going to know. Also, if you know what time the decision is coming out, or you have an estimate, you don’t have to worry about being in a constant state of refreshing your email. You can let go and relax until the very date (and even time, if you can find that out) on which decisions come out!

Set reminders for yourself

Before I got my decision, I left a note for myself to see on the day I would hear back. I wrote “whatever happens is meant to be,” because I knew that I would need to hear that message with any outcome. Writing these words and truly believing them was a huge step in the right direction in terms of calming myself down.

Also, these reminders can be helpful beforehand. If you understand that you will support yourself no matter what, that’s half the battle. Whether a college accepts you or not is no longer in your hands, but what is in your hands is how you will take the news. The most important thing to remember is that you gave it your best shot.

Plan Something Nice for the Next Day!

If you find out when your results are coming out, plan something nice for yourself for the next day. Regardless of the results, it will be nice to look forward to something happening the next day. It will remind you that whatever happens, life will go on, and there’s actually something to look forward to after. This gift to yourself will provide either a celebration or a consolation for your news. So plan to get yourself some sushi, buy yourself some clothes that you can open the day after, or plan something else that will undoubtedly make YOU happy.

The Risk of Applying

So… what happens if the big day comes and you don’t get in? There’s always a possibility of this outcome and I personally believe that it’s better to prepare for the worst case scenario so your expectations will either be met or exceeded. Let’s go over a few tips on what to think about if you get your decision back from a college and it’s not what you wanted.

College Decisions are like a Relationship

A lot of times college decisions aren’t a test of intelligence. I know that it’s a common thought that you have to fit some perfect standard to get into certain schools, but colleges are also looking for people that fit with the values of their community, So, if colleges don’t think you would be good with them, then it’s probably a good thing that you won’t spend the next 4 years there. If you don’t get in somewhere, it doesn’t mean you weren’t smart or “good” enough, it just means that that college believes that they were not the right place for you to spend your next four years. Colleges try to get a feel for if you will or will not thrive.

You Are Not How a College Sees You

The college application process is not nearly as personal as I wish it could be. Instead of getting to know you over the many years of your life, colleges see essays that stressed high school seniors wrote while dividing their time between many other crucial assignments. There are so many details about you that nobody could ever fit into a single college application—and that’s OK! We have depths beyond a couple of essays, descriptions of 10 of our activities, etc.

Colleges see a few of our stories, not all of them. They see our test scores (if we send them in) from a few hours of one day. Not the results of all of life’s tests that we’ve gone through. If they’re lucky, they get to meet you in an interview, but that only lasts usually about 45 minutes. It’s possible, unfortunately, that even after weeks of preparation, colleges will not ever know the real you. THEIR LOSS!

The college process takes a lot of time and energy so remember all that you have already accomplished. At the end of the day, you put the work in to put yourself out there and be considered by higher education institutions. Congratulations on getting this far! I wish each and every one of you readers the best of luck and hope that you end up exactly where you want to be next year.

Regardless of the results, remember to be proud of yourself for the unbelievably hard work it takes to apply to colleges. It’s no easy task being a senior and applying to colleges, especially with all the challenges that COVID-19 poses. At the end of the day, you’ve done all you could and that’s something to celebrate. So, now you’re ready to take these decisions as they come. Remember to BREATHE!

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Ava Chase

Ava Chase is a senior in high school who uses writing as a creative outlet. She is an active member of her community and loves to volunteer. Her ideal day would include playing music, reading by the fireplace and cuddling up with her dogs.