We are about to go through one of the more emotional moments in the admissions process. In the days building up to the final release of early decision notices on December 15th, we’ll experience collectively the simultaneous surge of four strong emotions: anticipation, elation, disappointment and confusion. This will be the first turn in a series of turns that will continue until all admissions notifications are out in April.
This is my advice:
The notification process stretches from December through the end of March. There are weeks where little news goes out, and there are days where multiple colleges announce their decisions at once.
Dec 15th – most early decisions are released
Dec - Feb – early action decisions are released
Dec-Mar – all other admissions decisions are released
April – colleges hold spring welcome days for admitted students
May 1st – deadline for accepting admission to one of your colleges
May-June – you may be taken off a waitlist and admitted
July-Aug – preparation for the college semester begins
In a letter from the college, you will learn that you have been admitted, provisionally admitted, waitlisted, deferred or rejected. Here is the key:
Admitted is a straightforward “yes, we want you!”
Deferred means that the college is still interested in you and will review your application again with the regular decision applicant pool. It is likely that they will review your senior fall transcript. You may not hear back again from the college until mid to late March.
Provisionally admitted means that you will be admitted as long as you meet a final requirement. Most often you are asked to keep up your overall GPA or show that you’ve passed or improved a grade in a particular course. If you are deferred, you will want to follow all instructions carefully.
If you are waitlisted, then you have not been admitted for now, but the college is interested in you and may admit you at a later date. Waitlisting is quite common. If you are waitlisted, you will want to follow all instructions carefully.
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 the rejection despite admission mix upsets or confuses you.
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 or 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.
If at any time, you need to talk or review anything, or if you don't understand the results, please contact me. I'm always happy to see you in my office, get coffee, talk by phone, or text. I'm here the whole time until this is over.
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.