I sometimes wonder what’s more stressful for Seniors and their families–applying to college or the months long wait for responses from the colleges. At least with applying, there’s a deadline, a definite end point to the frenzied energy. Plus, the activity of writing essays and collecting letters of recommendation, completing the application keeps one busy. Whereas during the waiting period–roughly between November and April, everyday activity is on-going, but there’s those moments of quiet when the “I don’t know if I got in” concerns can be heard loudly. The college acceptance or denial can feel equally personal, which can add to the stress of waiting. The former can feel like a validation of one’s talents, intelligence, experiences and efforts. The latter can feel like a stranger’s inditement of one’s talents, intelligence, experiences and efforts. Plus, news reports of record numbers of applications at the University of California or other universities during the waiting time can touch sore spots–raising questions about one’s competitiveness such a large pool of applicants. Not to mention, when so-and-so at school or colleagues at work–for parents–report acceptances and denials from early applications, already sensitive nerves can feel further inflamed, arousing predictions based on comparison. The waiting period can feel like forever, with the unknowns about colleges responses giving one’s mind plenty of room to speculate and influence one’s mood. In the end, these trials are one of those character defining moments, that time in the movies when only music plays and you see the main character deep in contemplation, before the scenes cut to them taking some decisive action. You’re in the deep contemplation stage right now, so find some music to help you. (I personally hear the Rocky theme song at times like these…)
So, while there is no easy way to lessen the stress of waiting for the colleges to respond, the silver lining of the stress is the maturing that happens as students endure the waiting period and find they survive no matter the outcome. Additionally, students can avoid later in life regrets, “should-ing” themselves about having not applied to college. Sometimes, having tried and fallen short is less stressful, than having not tried at all. These are the unintended lessons for college applicants. While the stress of waiting can feel like some unique torture device designed simply to mess with you and you alone, you’re not alone, nor are you the first generation to feel similarly. Parents may remember anxiously checking the mailbox for the “fat envelope”, not the skinny one. My dad always told me, “Nothing you experience is unique to you,” which now that I’m older, means, “If someone else experienced what I am feeling right now and lived to tell the story, then I can too.” So, I recommend listening to my dad, and if that doesn’t work, stock up on extra chocolate. In 6-8 weeks, the wait will be over. And, the “good” problem of choosing which college begins.