Clicking ‘submit’ for the final application brings many seniors and their parents a great sense of accomplishment and relief that the hard part of the process is over. Many parents do not anticipate the emotional roller coaster that accompanies the waiting game for admissions decisions. The fact that colleges makes admissions decisions on different timelines can result in increased stress for those waiting to hear back from their colleges after their classmates have already been notified.
Here are several tips for staying strong and focused on what matters most through this process:
1. Tune Out Other Acceptances: High school seniors treat acceptances like a form of social currency and create pecking orders based on where they are admitted. Every applicant has a unique story to tell. News of another student that has been admitted to your dream college does not necessarily mean there isn’t a spot for you there as well. Colleges admit students to create a well-rounded class. There is room for multiple students at any college—even the most selective—from any high school.
2. Stay Positive: The college admissions process is a great introduction to the life lesson that regardless of how hard we try, there are certain things outside of our control. There is no point in worrying what will happen with specific schools because there is a degree of arbitrariness in the process. People read the essays and applications files and some may be received better than others at no fault of your own. Focus on the fact that you gave the application process your all and showed admissions committees what inspires you or makes you unique.
3. Be Realistic: If your dream school only accepts five or ten percent of its applicants, accept that this means just a handful of the well qualified applicants will actually get in. You could do everything right, and it may still not be enough to earn admission. There are just so many more applicants than spots available at many selective colleges. Recognize this as early as possible.
4. Focus on Long-Term Goals: To become a doctor or embark on any other competitive career does not require a degree from Stanford, Harvard, or any other college that accepts 5% of its applicants. Remember to dedicate yourself to long-term goals and recognize that there are countless colleges that can provide the foundation for you to achieve long-term success.
Seniors, I wish you the best of luck in the next few months as you hear back from the schools you applied to. But more important than luck with the admissions process, I wish you long-term success beyond college.