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An End to the Long Wait

Posted by on Monday, March 22, 2010 in Application Process.

For most of you, the holidays contained turkey, pie, presents, and LOTS of college applications. College applications were due in early January and then after years of preparation and a flurry of activity, you had nothing to do. Perhaps you leaned back in your desk chair, put your arms behind your head, and breathed out a sigh of relief. If you’re like most of my students, though, that moment of tranquility was short lived. The years of hard work did not teach rest and relaxation, but rather a steady march towards perfection and even during this time of waiting, you busied yourself. There were financial aid forms, additional college visits, mid-year grade reports, and periodic contact with your admission counselors. However, if you were being honest with yourself, you generated most of this work just to keep yourself from going crazy. High achieving students (like those of you reading this right now) are accustomed to getting stuff done; you take action and produce positive results. Three months is an eternity. It became even more unbearable as early admission letters began to trickle in to others in your high school class. Yet, in about one week, after all of this time, you will know and the wait will be over.

Then what? Here’s my advice for the moments, hours, days, and weeks after you rip open those envelopes:

• Hug your parents. No matter the result (deny, waitlist, admit), your parents need your support just as much as you need theirs. They were more than likely sweating just as much during these past three months and, to be fair, they’ve spent the past 18 years sweating it out on your behalf. Be kind to them.
• Avoid broadcasting your business on social media immediately. This will probably be my most disregarded piece of advice. I press on though. Sit down to dinner with your parents, help your siblings with homework, or watch a movie with your best friend. Whatever you do, do not immediately log onto Facebook and announce your decisions to the world. Once you do so, the world will begin telling you what to think and how you should feel. You don’t need validation from everybody and their brother. There will be plenty of time to get it. Spend some time decompressing so you know how you feel about each decision first.
• It’s okay to be disappointed, but focus on the excitement. Most students will receive a rejection or waitlist letter. Those are no fun and can be really disappointing if it was your top choice. Give the school a quick and proper mourning, and then forget it. April is about celebrating the opportunities given to you. The schools that admitted you want you on their campus and will spend the month of April courting you. Enjoy those moments.
• Go with your gut. Even if you received 18 admit letters do not let yourself forget what this is really about. Where do you want to live and learn for the next four years? Stop making a list of pros and cons. Don’t analyze and rehash every statistical point with your friends and family. Go with your gut even if it runs contrary to the advice of others.

On that last point I would like to leave you with a quote I have hanging in my office… please remember this during the month of April as you make final decisions.

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” –Lao Tzu

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  • Sifang Zhao

    March 22nd, 2010

    I really enjoyed reading your article! Thanks for the advice. I just gave my mom an early hug. And I’ll stick to the other advice. Thank you.

  • Sifang Zhao

    January 9th, 2018

    I don’t remember leaving the above comment 8 years ago…Turns out I didn’t get in for undergrad. However, I got accepted to Vandy for a PhD program 2 years ago! It was a long wait but worth it :)

  • Jay Watson

    January 10th, 2018


  • 2014prospy

    March 22nd, 2010

    I really enjoyed this post!

  • Vandy '07 Alum

    March 23rd, 2010

    I’m hoping my sibling gets in! 2 Vandy alums in the same home would be awesome!!!

  • an interested parent

    March 24th, 2010

    I’ve read a lot about the college admissions process over the last eight years. This is priceless advice from someone who knows a lot more about the process than I do and obviously cares a great deal for young people; it’s a shame that many applicants won’t ever see it. I’m going to make sure my child does. Thanks for all you do.

  • Ann Jensen - Parent

    March 25th, 2010

    This almost made me cry. It’s my second year in a row of kids with college applications. (My son is a freshman in college this year.) Thanks for the empathy. I’ll make sure my daughter sees this!!!