We are in the first countdown. The Dec. 15th admissions notification deadline is days away. For most high school students, this first step is a right of passage. For the first time in their lives, they are facing the news about a decision that feels like it will alter significantly their immediate and long term future.
Life holds many of these critical moments. We apply alongside dozens of others to join a college club or rent an apartment or home. We seek out jobs, promotions and loans. We move in and out of romantic relationships. We make and lose friends. These steps and moves aren’t easy, but the difficulty and disappointments they offer up challenge us to learn how to support ourselves and each other.
Keep things in perspective. Don’t make the error of believing that this decision-positive or negative-is going to change your life. Your life–no matter where you go to college–will be shaped most by your attitudes and the behaviors you develop to shape your life.
Emotional Next Steps
No matter what is happening, these critical moments are always an invitation to celebrate and care for ourselves and others. Even students who get into their “dream” schools can suffer all kinds of surprising feelings: self-doubt, questioning, even feelings of disappointment that the “big race” is now over.
No matter what outcome you face, now is the time to give yourself some well-deserved self-care. Spend these days supporting yourself and your peers. Listen for your feelings and pay attention to your needs. Tune in and attend to whatever you need: self-compassion, a hug, some play time, a nap, a treat or healthy meal, exercise, community, nature, quiet, noise, whatever you are craving. Most importantly, tune into your own kind-spiritedness. Keep yourself and your community positive and avoid gossip; treat everyone well and you’ll discover an added boomerang effect of boosting your own self-esteem.
Practical Next Steps
Review my tips from my last blog about handling your news and everyone else’s. You can find them at the bottom of this blog.
If you are admitted, celebrate. That’s easy. Enjoy! Be a good friend to your peers who may have not been admitted to their early decision school.
If you are deferred or waitlisted, take action.
If you are rejected, consider an appeal.
Keep things in perspective. Don’t make the error of believing that this decision-positive or negative-is going to change your life. Your life–no matter where you go to college–will be shaped most by your attitudes and the behaviors you develop to shape your life. Here are Frank Bruni’s words on this point.
“We know that where we go to college will have infinitely less bearing on our fulfillment in life than so much else: the wisdom with which we choose our romantic partners; our interactions with the communities that we inhabit; our generosity toward the families that we inherit and the families that we make. We know that no college can compete with getting any one of those things right.” (Frank Bruni, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be)
Riding the Emotional Rollercoaster
Receiving this news and hearing about everyone else's news can feel overwhelming. So look ahead and devise a plan for opening letters or checking your status on the online admissions portal. Here are my ideas:
1. Timing. Consider being strategic about choosing a time to look up admission results. If you feel you might be emotionally thrown off by admissions news, then get your homework or exam preparation out of the way first. Even if you are admitted to your early decision school, you may not be admitted to your early action schools. Don't be surprised if receiving a rejection upsets or confuses you even after you’ve been admitted to the college you most want to attend.
2. Make room for what you feel. Make time to be sad. And make time to have fun and let go of your emotions. Remember that you are not alone. The entire world is sharing in this process with you. Everyone is receiving good and bad news.
3. To share or not to share? Think about how you want to share information about your news with your peers. You can wait and tell people at the end of the process after you accept admission somewhere, you can share all of your updates every month, or anything in between. Do what is most comfortable for you. Please contact me if you want to discuss this.
4. Plan fun. The emotional ups and downs can take a toll. Find a way to reset! Most people reset with a new activity, extended exercise, creative play (yes, baking counts), a great snack or meal, time with friends, a funny video or movie. My personal favorite is going to a place I've never visited or trying a new food. Life is filled with these stressful moments, so learning to reset will help you on the road ahead.
5. Watch your thinking. We humans let our thinking get the best of us. Try not to put extra pressure on yourself by creating stories in your head.
Felicia Fahey PhD
Felicia is a comprehensive educational consultant. She works with college bound students of all ages close to home, across the country and around the globe.