This is first in a series of posts by our 2013-14 DIP interns. In this post, Rachel Dobrin, a Senior at Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, offers suggestions for how to deal with the dreaded “Waiting Game” of the college application season.
It is mid-November, you have put the finishing touches on your personal statement that took five drafts to perfect, and before you know it you have clicked submit and have officially completed your college applications. Now what?
Senior year and the application process can be one of the most stressful times in a teenager’s young life, and when the submission process is over, most are able to breathe a sigh of relief. However, this is the time when the real “fun” begins. All of your hard work and effort seems to be put on hold in the time period of several months between application submission and a notification of acceptance, deferment or rejection from colleges. This can often cause even more stress and a large amount of impatience, and now you have to wait? But instead of letting nerves and anxiety creep up on you, take on a different perspective and try to make the most out of your time. Below are five tips that will help to fill this waiting period without letting your impatience get the best of you.
Most of my applications were submitted in October and I have to wait until the end of March to find out my fate, so here are some useful ideas for filling this five-month (or hopefully less!) time span.
- Do your best in your first semester of senior year
Many students believe that 12th grade is the year to relax, or claim that they have contracted a case of “senioritis,” but it is important to ignore these stereotypes. Colleges look at the classes you plan to take for your senior year and some even ask for your mid-year grades, so it is important to stay on top of your studies, exhibit time management, and set academic priorities and goals. So before you slack off in AP Physics and realize you have a C minus going into the final, remember how hard you have worked thus far and strive to promote the best version of yourself for colleges to see.
- Apply for scholarships
There are thousands of scholarships out there eager to give students some financial help, so make the most of these opportunities. Apply for both national and local scholarships to earn as much money as you can. And I know, the last thing someone wants to do is write yet another essay, but many times one can slightly alter their personal statement to fit the criteria of a prompt. And for those who cannot hear the word “essay” without cringing, there are plenty of “no-essay scholarships” that one can find through the Internet. This is free money ready for the taking, so try to devote some time every week or two to find scholarships that match your criteria. You never know, you could end up having a year of tuition paid for if all goes well.
- Keep up with extracurricular activities but also seek new opportunities
Extracurricular are a major part of the application process, and for the most part, people choose these activities because they spark some type of passion or interest. Try to stay with these organizations and continue to actively participate. It is also important to seek out new activities to get involved in. Sometimes, students are asked after the application deadline to provide some additional information, so by having a new activity or achievement, students might give themselves that extra push into the “accepted” pile. Joining the drama club and becoming the lead in the spring musical will make you a much more competitive applicant than someone who dropped out of their activities the minute after they clicked “submit application.”
- Do some research and visit the schools you’re waiting to hear from
After submitting applications, do your due-diligence and research all that you can on the schools to which you just applied. The deadline to commit is May 1st, and some colleges do not release their decisions until the last weeks of March, which leaves a narrow window of time to make such a major decision. By doing research beforehand, you will save time for your future when making an informed decision. Another way to do research is by visiting, and this is often the best way to find out whether the school is the right fit for you. Some colleges often look like a perfect fit on paper, but after visiting, it is difficult to see yourself there. As a Southern California resident, I am used to moderate weather all of the time, but visiting out-of-state schools where the weather is not as ideal became a wake up call when considering some schools. Try to visit the campuses during their normal weather conditions to see what it is like, and decide if you are the type of person willing to trade in your flip-flops for snow boots.
- Most importantly, have some fun!
The college process can often take a toll on the lives of teens, but it is important to relax and have fun! Celebrate all of your hard work thus far and make the most of the time you still have left in high school. Taking life too seriously will only leave you upset and nervous, so take that study break and go to the mall with your friends or spontaneously go on that hike you’ve been longing to trek. The days left at home will fly, so make sure to spend your time enjoying yourself rather than worrying.
These are just a few tips to help you pass the time during this critical period of your senior year. Though the anticipation is seemingly endless, March will arrive before you know it, and the big packet addressed to you on the kitchen table will be a sign that the wait was most definitely worth it.