February and March are tense times within the world of college admissions – for everyone involved – students, parents and admissions officials alike. Potential college students anxiously wait to hear back from their top colleges choices. The students’ angst is rising and parents feel powerless, wanting to end the madness of the waiting game. The colleges work around the clock, reading application after application trying to evaluate each and every student thoroughly to the best of their ability to get the decisions out in a timely manner.Here are tips to keep you from losing it during the intense and, often, grueling period of waiting to hear back from colleges on whether or not you've been accepted: Remain confident. It’s a case of the coulda, woulda, shoulda's. You could have written your essay, filled out your application or sent in your packet thousands of different ways – but you didn’t. And that’s okay.Remain confident in what you did do because it’s done. There’s nothing you can do about it at this point but wait it out and let life take its course and, truthfully, those slight changes likely would not have mattered anyway. Accept the things you cannot change, congratulate yourself on your efforts, realize that it is now out of your hands and move forward. Do not harass the admissions department!Don’t call the office of admissions and ask why you still have not heard back! They likely are overwhelmed by applicants and the ratio of applicants to staff is certainly imbalanced. Applications must go through a variety of stages and they are working as quickly as possible – harassing them will only irritate them and slow down the process even more because you’re taking up their time to answer telephone calls. Utilize web tools. Colleges, now more than ever, spend a fortune on technology that allows students to keep tabs on their application status and to track one’s application to check if anything may be missing from theirs to speed up to process. Be sure to utilize these tools, which may help ease your impatience – you’ll feel like you’re “in the know.” If a school doesn’t offer this type of technology, feel free to check in with the admissions office to verify that they have received all of your materials and that nothing is missing that was necessary to complete your application. Focus on what’s ahead. At this point, you have no way of predicting what the outcome will be, so it’s important to begin to prepare for all potential scenarios right now. Create a back-up plan, just in case you aren’t accepted into your first choice college for your second choice or a safety school. Also, fill out all application forms for financial aid, FAFSA (if you haven’t already) and scholarships for both colleges so you can send them in and you’ll be first in line once accepted. Give thanks. While you wait to hear back from schools, occupy your time by formally thanking everyone who helped you throughout the college search, application and admissions processes. Write personalized thank you notes to anyone who took time out specifically to help you, from the coach who took the time to write you a letter of recommendation, the family friend who emailed the admissions official they golf with to put in a good word on your behalf, your English teacher who helped edit your essay or your friend’s parents who took you along on a college visit. A hand written thank you note may not seem like much, but it goes a long way, showing those around you that you sincerely appreciate their efforts at face value, especially since you don’t even know the outcome yet. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Although it sounds negative, it’s always best to prepare for the worst case scenario. If you’re mentally prepared for the worst, nothing will shock you and you will be able to handle whatever comes your way. The truth is, there is always the possibility That you won’t be admitted to your first or second choice school. If you’re already emotionally prepared for this as best you can be, it will make dealing with it a lot easier. Remind yourself that life isn’t over just because you didn’t get into a particular school. Make sure you apply to a safety school (a school that you will undoubtedly be accepted into, based on your academic standing – your guidance counselor can help with this) as a back-up plan). Outline positives. To keep things in perspective, it can be beneficial to make a list of positive attributes of your second choice or safety school. Why is it a good school? What is it known for? What’s the campus like? Considering all of the good things about what the college has to offer and compiling a visual list may help to put things in perspective. This will likely aid in helping your emotional state – just in case you don’t get the exact acceptance results you wanted. Shift focus back to senior year. Your senior year is one the best within your life – at least up until this point. You've got prom, graduation and endless parties and celebrations to attend. Don’t let impatience and waiting put a damper on these moments you’re supposed to treasure. Enjoy life as it comes and have fun in the process! Stay positive If your friends hear back before you, don’t freak out. Most admissions offices operate on a rolling admission basis and notify students as soon as they reach a decision. It is absolutely normal for students within the same high school to receive letters in waves rather than all at once. Also, the delay could be due to your applying to a major that’s considered on a slightly different timeline. There are a variety of potential factors that could cause a delay. Truthfully, the reasoning for the delay doesn't matter. What matters is, you need to stay positive because it isn't over until you get the letter letting you know whether you’ve been accepted or not. Always stay optimistic! Don’t be a Downer So, you’re impatient. Don’t take out your frustration on your friends! If you decide to deal with your impatience with a bad attitude, you may have issues with your high school friends! They cannot control the admissions process anymore than you can and will likely distance themselves from you if they begin to hear back from schools when you haven’t. You want them to feel comfortable around you and to be able to celebrate because you’d want to do the same, so try to keep your frustrations under control. There’s nothing you can do about it anyway so try to enjoy the moments and be happy for those around you! If all else fails, transfer. If your first-choice school doesn’t send you an acceptance letter and you absolutely must go there - good news! Our higher education system has built-in opportunities specifically for second chances. Believe it or not, students transferring colleges is as common a thing as going to college in the first place. Plus, this time around you’ll likely have more control over the outcome. If you work hard to earn a great transcript in your first year or two of college, you’ll have serious proof that you absolutely do belong at your dream school. If that’s your ultimate goal, harness your energy into motivation for a future transfer!
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