Friday, March 9, 2012

Playing the Waiting Game: Exercising Patience While Looking for Admissions Decisions

Almost every prospective college student goes through this: You turned in your application materials, you paid your fees, you maybe even visited the campus once or twice. Now what? It’s time for you to play the waiting game, the most excruciating weeks and months of your life while you wait for an admissions committee in some far-off locale to decide the fate of your future. You must be asking yourself: Did I get in? Will Harvard take me? Maybe Stanford? What about Baylor? Or will they all just be rejections, like a big pile of collegial coal?

This time can be distracting for a student, especially with senioritis setting in by now. It’s tempting to spend all day waiting for the mailman, checking your inbox, or twiddling your thumbs as you stare intently at the phone. Surely the mailman could make two deliveries today, right? What about the website? Maybe it will update after their office closes. Maybe the email got lost in my spam folder.

But no matter how terminal a case of distracted senioritis you get or how frustrating the wait is, this is when you most need to knuckle-down, because no matter the admissions decision, you won’t be going anywhere if you fail your final high school classes. So how do you focus on the next four months of your life, when the next four years and beyond hang in the balance?

1. Limit temptation. Set a time every day when you will check your school’s preferred method of communication, whether that is email, a website or snail mail. Limit yourself to that once daily check (or twice if the mailman came later than you thought he did), but no more after that. This takes a lot of self-discipline, and it might even require you limiting your computer time to make it easier, but it’s better than driving yourself crazy with obsessive checking.

2. Take care of business. You’re getting into one of the busier parts of the semester, with tests, papers and projects starting to come up in the next few weeks. Keep yourself distracted from waiting on admissions decisions by throwing yourself into your school work. If you’re one of the rare students that do not have anything due sometime soon, get a jump start on projects that will come up later in the semester, especially if you would otherwise procrastinate. That way, once you have your admissions decision in hand, you will have already done your projects and papers, and you can sit back and mellow into that lovely senioritis.

3. Develop a new hobby. Part of the college experience is trying a bunch of new things: hobbies, looks, interests, majors. Why not get a jump start on it by working on some new hobbies, or rediscovering old ones? This will distract you from that ever-tempting mailbox. It might also help you meet some new people once you get to college. So if you’ve never learned to cook before, now is the time, before you’re stuck eating ramen in the dorms!

4. Spend quality time with friends and loved ones. No matter how much you and your friends say that you will all go to the same school, that you will all hang out when you’re on break, that you will always be as close as two peas in a pod, college usually doesn’t work out that way. You’ll meet new people, develop new interests, and have different experiences, and that will change you. You may still spend time with your friends, but you’ll never be as close again as you are now, so make the most of the time you’ve got with them now. Similarly, your parents probably see you growing up before their eyes, leaving home, going away to college, getting a job, starting your own family… and so on. Taking some time to talk with Mom and Dad each day will help them cope with the fact that you’re not just leaving but that you’re growing up.

Simply by keeping yourself distracted from this all-important question, you’ll be able to focus much more on those things you have to deal with right now: school, chores, and life.

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