Annual December Stress Antidote

The college admissions world kicks into high gear in December as schools start to send their Early Decision (ED) letters. This application plan is binding: if they admit you, you are committed to attend. Some of the most selective colleges in the country will be releasing their decisions in the next two weeks. Students typically apply to their first choice school, so these decisions usually have two results on the receiving end, unabated joy or extreme disappointment. The highs are high and the lows are low.

If you are a senior, these weeks are intense, even if you did not apply early anywhere. Years ago, I watched this stress build and I looked for some piece of wisdom to share with my seniors. I could not find what I wanted to say, so I wrote my own piece below and it still holds true. If you are a senior or the parent of a senior, fasten your seatbelt and read this as often as necessary.

As early application results come in, I have noticed a heightened state among college-bound seniors as they wait for results from the schools where they applied. I searched my archives of articles to find something that might help students take stock and maintain perspective, but none of the articles said what I wanted to say, so here are my two cents. Keep your eye on your own ball. Do not pay attention to the admissions chatter. Think about what you are looking for in a college and what you want your life to look like after the 45 months that you will spend at college. Consider your strengths and weaknesses as a student as well as how you learn best. Continue to explore areas of study and career paths that interest you. Make a list of things you would like to accomplish in college like studying abroad or completing an internship. Explore the websites of ALL the colleges where you are applying and see if anything jumps out at you. College admission is just the beginning. The kids that “win” at the college game (if there even is such a thing) are the students that arrive on campus with a sense of purpose, use their four years well and graduate on time. In precisely five months you will be submitting a deposit to the lucky school that gets to have you for the next four years. Use this time to ponder what you want in a college so that when your choices are on the table, you have a deeper sense of what you want in a school.

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