How to Cope While Waiting for College Admission Results


The anticipation that comes with sending out college applications is palpable, marking the beginning of an exciting yet nerve-wracking journey. However, the hardest part for many students is the waiting period that follows. With an average turnaround time of four to six weeks for schools with rolling admissions and eight to 12 weeks for regular decision candidates, the waiting game can test the patience of even the most composed applicants.

How to Cope While Waiting for College Admission Results
(Photo : UNSPLASH / Matese Fields) 

Coping Strategies: Balancing Between Anxiety and Detachment

Students handle the waiting period in different ways, and experts emphasize the importance of finding a balance between constant checking and complete detachment. Rod Lembvem, a principal admissions counselor at IvyWise, advises staying busy during this time to ease the stress. While it's natural to feel anxious, obsessively contacting admissions offices can potentially harm the application.

Understanding when and how to follow up on submitted applications is crucial during the waiting period. Most colleges send a confirmation email upon receiving an application, with instructions on checking the application status through an online portal. Sacha Thieme, from Indiana University-Bloomington, encourages students to trust the status updates on the portal, which is designed to be a self-service tool. While it's acceptable to follow up once or twice for verification, being excessively persistent may have unintended consequences on the application's perception.

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Staying Informed: Self-Service Portals and Online Resources

Online portals serve as valuable resources for students and parents to find information, verify details, and monitor admissions decisions. According to Lembvem, many answers to questions can be found on the school's admissions website. Emphasizing the importance of self-service, Thieme encourages applicants to utilize these portals and minimize unnecessary follow-ups to avoid being remembered as an anxious or bothersome candidate.

Utilizing the Waiting Period: Productive Steps for Applicants

As decisions start rolling in, students can feel a mix of emotions. For those applying through rolling admissions, decisions might arrive as early as October or November, while early action or early decision candidates usually hear back in December or January. Regular decision applicants face a longer timeline, with decisions typically announced in March or April. To make the most of their senior year, experts suggest staying engaged both inside and outside the classroom.

Senior Year Focus: Beyond Boosting Resumes

While much of the college application focuses on achievements from the first three years of high school, maintaining focus and dedication during the senior year remains crucial. Especially for highly selective colleges, senior year grades can hold significant weight. The emphasis shifts from boosting a resume to finishing strong, and students are encouraged to pursue activities that bring joy and fulfillment.

Decision-Making Dilemmas: What Comes After Acceptance

Receiving college decisions brings forth a new set of dilemmas, such as when to make a decision and understanding the implications of waitlists. For students on rolling admissions or with early action/early decision acceptances, the decision-making timeline is relatively shorter, with commitments expected by May 1. However, those on waitlists face uncertainty, prompting a need for thorough research and exploration of alternative options.

Researching Alternatives: Navigating Waitlists and Ensuring Clarity

The waiting game can offer students a chance to explore alternative options while waiting to hear from a target school. Considering realistic possibilities and having a list of institutions that align with personal preferences is crucial, says Thieme. Making decisions in haste may not be in the best interest of the student, emphasizing the importance of early consideration and visits to potential institutions.

The Fragile Nature of Acceptance: Avoiding Pitfalls

While acceptance letters bring relief, it's crucial for students to understand that colleges can rescind admission under certain circumstances. Admissions decisions are conditional on the accuracy of the application, and significant changes in academic performance or online presence can lead to rescinded offers. Experts advise students to maintain their level of academic performance and be mindful of their social media footprint.

Social Media Awareness: A Cautionary Tale

In an era of increased digital scrutiny, students must be mindful of their social media presence. Colleges may rescind admission based on inappropriate online behavior. Elizabeth Heaton, from Bright Horizons College Coach, highlights the importance of evaluating and curating social media content. A cautionary tale involves Harvard University rescinding admission to students involved in a private Facebook group sharing inappropriate content.

The college admissions waiting period is a challenging yet transformative phase for students and parents. By adopting a balanced approach, utilizing self-service portals, staying engaged, and making informed decisions, applicants can navigate the waiting game with resilience and confidence. As they prepare to step into the next chapter of their academic journey, proactive measures during the waiting period can contribute to a smoother transition and a more positive college experience. 

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