February can be a short, but cruel, month – followed by a long, excruciating March – while you are waiting to hear back from college admissions. Trying to envision your life after senior year is nail-biting: this is the rest of your (foreseeable) life we are talking about. Unfortunately, the struggle is real – there is no telling what your April inbox holds. So take a break from checking your mail obsessively or scrolling though the ivy-speckled Instagram account of that dream alma-matter, and channel your anxiety into these 10 ways to keep it cool instead.
1.Remain Calm at All Times (Except when you can’t.) Take a deep breath and realize that you are not alone, and that everything will fall into place. This is hard advice to follow, but fretting constantly to your friends and family will just take you in circles, alienate loved ones, and accomplish nothing but skin break-outs. Try meditation or yoga; dance with your friends, hit the gym. Channel your nervous energy into something physical and fun. When all else fails, limit yourself to just one mild freak-out per week, and kindly rotate the person who has to listen to it all.
2. Don’t Pester The Admission Office. You are allowed to follow up and see if colleges have received all of your information, but hang up your hat and wait it out from this point on. You may be tempted to bake cupcakes and fed-ex them to your admission counselor, but this will have minimal impact on their decision and the cupcakes will just end up in the admission waiting room to be devoured by other prospective students awaiting their tour. The no-pester rule also applies to making your mom do the dirty work – it’s best for the whole family to sit tight until after a decision is made. (Pro tip: Admission officers would rather hear directly from prospective students when it comes to any admission questions or arrangements, so ask your parents to communicate to colleges via you if any questions do arise.)
3. Write Thank You Notes. They are not old-fashioned, they are vintage-awesome. Write them to your admission officers, to your mentors who offered sage advice, and to your teachers who worked hard in their free time to craft a perfect letter of recommendation on your behalf (which is pretty difficult between grading papers and binge-watching House of Cards). Thank you notes make a difference. No one likes junk mail; everyone likes a thank you card. Make someone’s day. No need to glitter-bomb.
4. Avoid The Senior Slump. Your applications are in; you have worked your tail off for the past four years; you rule the school, and you deserve a semester off! Right, Right, Right, Wrong. No semesters off, sorry. Senioritis is a bitter affliction and highly contagious. But stave it off and keep your work ethic high: this can be a critical time for your grades and college acceptances. Colleges DO reflect on your mid-semester grades, and they have the right to rescind an offer of admission if you fall off track. Perhaps even more critically, if you end up on the wait list of your dream school, your final semester grades could be the make or break factor in your swing vote.
5. Create a Plan B (and C) and Make Them Look Amazing. It’s ok to pine over your dream school and hope for the best, but not everyone lands their first choice (in fact, a lot of them don’t.) Hopefully, the list that you worked on with your family and guidance counselor included a range of schools that were a good match for who you are as a person; whether they are at the top of your list or somewhere toward the bottom. There is something to love about every college: you just need to tap into what makes it tick and how you might thrive there. Write out list of the pros available to you at each school, leave the cons for later when you are deciding between acceptances.
6. Research Potential Majors and Career Tracks. If you can’t know where you will be attending school, squash some of the suspense by researching what you will be studying when you get there. While it’s true that many students don’t decide on a major until their sophomore year of college, it’s a great idea to look into your interests – both old and new – because you will be exposed to so many more possibilities next year. Think you are interested in psychology? You might not have even heard of Speech Pathology, but it could be your calling. Love History? Political Science might actually be your thing. Take a look at what there is to choose from – and then choose your own adventure.
7. Treasure Your Last Months of High School (or just try to like them a little bit). It’s time to just stop and look around you. Look at how far you have come since 9th grade. See how much you have accomplished in four years. Look at the friendships you have built. It hasn’t been easy, sometimes it has been downright ugly. But you’ve made it, and life will never be the same after June. Take it all in, and then let it go. If you can’t find anything to love about high school, then just enjoy these classic films about high school instead.
8. Keep looking for Scholarships. They are out there, waiting for you.
9. Celebrate With Your Friends. Acceptances may be rolling in for your friends who applied early decision or to rolling admission schools. It’s ok to feel a pang of envy when they come barreling at you in the hallway with an acceptance speech. But you’re next. Feel happy for your friends and share in their success – you have probably helped them get there just as much as they have helped you over the years, even if only through laughter, pizza, or a shoulder to cry on.
10. Keep An Open Mind. Going away to college is the unknown, and yet also the promise of a bright future. You will succeed, you will find your niche and new friends and a new routine – no matter where you end up (even if it means eventually transferring schools). Trust that you now have the tools to succeed and adapt to new environments and situations. High School may seem small and rigid at times, but it has been the perfect cocoon for you to prepare yourself for take off. Keep an open mind to the future, because the possibilities are now officially endless. Now scroll back up and repeat Step 1.