A Guide for Waiting on College Decisions

In my room, I have a pile of college mail. It consists of shiny packets of promotional material, booklets that fold out in a million directions, letters detailing the many reasons I should apply to their select institutions, even a few handwritten notes from admissions officers. However, in this stack, I only have one college acceptance. One from a local college, one that I barely even blinked at when I received my admissions decision. It’s my one and only safety school. The rest of my college decisions come out in late March and early April, and because I’m apparently a masochist, they are all incredibly selective.

If I think about it too much, the Shakes start. The Shakes feel like all your nerves are trembling and your head is full of thoughts, buzzing like gnats. Is my ACT Score high enough? Should I have reread my supplements one more time before sending them? What if I’m not good enough? Yet, the Shakes are a double-edged sword. They can shift to a feeling of hope. The Shakes can be you envisioning yourself at your dream school, climbing the steps to the library you have admired over pictures you found on Google Images or decorating your dorm room and sighing over the view. Here, the Shakes are a tingling in your stomach, filled with flakes of gold and glitter.

But then, you look online at the acceptance rate and the Shakes turn back to the nervous, two-hour televised shit show you were previously at. So you distract yourself. You try reading a book or browsing Instagram, but the Shakes haven’t stopped, and all you can think about is your admissions officer finding a grammatical error in one of your supplements and throwing away your entire application. Now is about the time where I go online and start watching college decision reaction videos. This exercise is both good and bad. The good lies in celebrating with the online persona as they cheer and cry with joy. But the bad is when they get rejected, their tongues tripping against their teeth and pits dropping in their stomachs, insisting that “it’s fine, I didn’t think I would get in anyway.” This is the worst feeling, watching the hope, the nervous excitement, drain out of someone. It's even worse when you know that could easily be you.

Yet, the consequences of waiting are not just anxiety-inducing. The months of hurriedly writing supplements and spending hours upon hours on perfecting your application just leads to months of apathy. After every application is turned in, senioritis hits hard. You drudge from class to class, head full of clouds and eyes drooping every five minutes. I know because senioritis came early for me, junior year to be exact. In order to push through the fog that follows, the fog of not wanting to do anything but get into college, you have to believe that what you are doing matters. You have to know that you have tried your best, put your all into application, and bared your soul to people you don’t even know. You have to realize that there’s nothing more you can do but wait. To some, that would feel like a death sentence. But once you know that, the problem is no longer yours, but the problem of the admissions counselors. Now, it's their turn to make big decisions and preoccupy themselves with our applications. So, the waiting shouldn’t be torturous. It should be spent in peace. 

I try to remind myself of this point as often as I can, yet sometimes, it's hard. Today especially, I cried to my mom, worrying that my writing wasn’t good enough, that I would be stuck at the local college I mentioned earlier. Feelings of doubt crept in, reminding me how fragile I am, how distinctly human, how far from perfect. Yet, now as I am finishing this article, I realize that everyone must feel this way. Because, even though we like to deny it, none of us are perfect. We can only try to be as good as we can be. And as cliché as it seems, just know that everything will be alright, even though it may not seem like it right now. 

By Sophie Sebastiani

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