As we enter the new year, many seniors will be submitting their final round of college applications. This marks an important milestone, and certainly a time for students to reflect on and be proud of the hard work they have accomplished so far. However, the road to college is not quite complete. The season of college admissions outcomes will soon be upon us, and in some cases has already begun for those who submitted early applications in the Fall. Over the next few months, students will gradually hear back those most anticipated admissions outcomes. This process may be simple and quick for some but will be long and potentially nerve-wracking for others. As we head into this process, here are some important items and tips to keep in mind.
Understand the Context
Admissions outcomes are by no means static. Each year, trends and statistics vary greatly. This has proved to be particularly true during the past few admissions seasons. However, in trying to understand the broader factors involved in a particular outcome, students should look to both the local trends in their school community and overall trends at each college or university. Perhaps early applications and resulting waitlist decisions were higher than anticipated at one university this admissions season. In some cases, understanding these realities can help students appreciate the complexities of the college admissions landscape. For others, simply taking the necessary time to feel and process the potential emotions involved in receiving an undesirable outcome can sometimes be enough.
As decisions come in, students should take an active approach to managing and recalibrating their initial college list. Explore your options as they emerge. Perhaps this means delving even deeper into the programs and opportunities of interest that each institution has to offer, re-visiting the campus, or attending an admitted student event. Engaging in this deeper, exploratory process as results come in can help to alleviate the stress of decision-making later on.
Focus on the Big Picture
In managing a flurry of acceptances, rejections, and waitlists, we encourage students to avoid seeking external validation as they plan out their next steps. Throughout the college process, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the thoughts and opinions of the people around you, even when they are well intended. No one has true insight into why certain students were admitted outside of the admission officers, and only official stats released by the college should be reviewed or considered. Social media only stokes the fires of anxiety. Students may have valuable information to gain from considering some of these recommendations, but should ultimately aim for balance in their decision-making process. Remember your own personal goals, objectives, and values in assessing and selecting your institution of choice and feel confident in your ability to make this personal and pivotal decision over the coming months.
As students near these final waypoints, remember to take a breath and take your time. The outcomes and choices students will soon encounter are a culmination of years of hard work they have already accomplished. Now is the time to reflect, recalibrate, and be intentional with how you choose to move forward with the options you are afforded, stepping into your next journey feeling proud of the progress you’ve made on the road to college.
Tony Di Giacomo Ph.D. is an educator and founder of Novella Prep. He has 20 years of university experience in admissions, development, teaching, and research. Contact him at email@example.com