How to Survive the Long Wait

Bird on ConeIt is not unfamiliar to hear that the worst part of the college application process is the dreadful, agonizing wait stretching from the darkest evening of the year to the sun-kissed days of spring. We’ve all been through it, hungrily looking into our mailbox every afternoon, clicking the email ‘refresh’ button once per fifteen minutes, fretting over tidbits of information (authentic and fabricated) fished out from Facebook exchanges about likely letters, alumni interview experiences, and alleged conversations with admission officers. Nausea, paranoia, and hysteria—your uninvited companions for the next three months will attempt to pluck you from your studies. The wait is painful, no doubt, but here’s what I’d strongly recommend:

1. Funnel your energy to scholarship applications. It’s easy to squander time by running different admission result scenarios in your head. Instead of being consumed by unproductivity, look around for scholarship opportunities! Many established programs have deadlines between late January and early March. These competitive programs typically require multiple well-constructed essays, and thus it is imperative that you start right away to win big. Remember, though many universities offer generous need-based aid, being financially prepared ahead of time will bring you much comfort and confidence.

2. Pursue your passion. The three-and-half year audition may seem over, but your encore should be equally impressive. As your coursework in school lightens, you can dig deeper into the extracurricular fields that fascinate you. Whether it’s writing poetry or picking up ballet, second semester senior year is the perfect time to free your hidden ambitions. Perhaps you’ll even find surprising success with these newly fostered interests, which may make an exceptionally strong February college update (discussed later) or even give you some direction for major/career choices.

3. Draft your college update. It is good to let colleges know that you didn’t drop the ball after you submitted your application package. Your counselors will send in your first semester senior year grades (a.k.a mid-year report) around February, and thus, it is a good idea for you to throw in your story as well. Inform your dream school of your continued involvement in debate, athletics, or drama. If you hear back from any merit-based, selective scholarship programs, that can add some colors to your portfolio.

4. Catch up with those who’ve helped you become who you are. The bittersweet moment of graduation looms on the horizon. Believe it or not, after leaving for college, communication with your decade-long friends may grow infrequent. If you’re like me—nostalgic, clingy, and unwilling to part the past—then proportioning sometime to catch up with your favorite middle school teacher or best childhood friend will bring you the greatest joy. Personally, re-connecting with my companions during second semester have become some of my fondest memories.

As one of my best friends used to advise me, take it one step at a time. You deserve a big congratulations at that point. Keep calm, and get ready for the jolly moment around the corner!

Jessica Li, Quest Scholar, Princeton ’18