Your hard work is done, the tests taken, the essays written, the interviews conducted and now the anxiety of waiting for the results of all that hard work. Waiting is the hardest part of the application process – no matter what kind of school you are focusing on attending boarding school or university.
The wait… sometimes excruciating! It gets even worse when friends around you have already learned some of their results. I know, sometimes you just want it all to be over – your current school as you look ahead to the excitement of new friends, new campuses. Sometimes you just want to curl up and nap the whole time away. While naps are truly very helpful, in this case they will not change the results. The hardest part of this whole ordeal is how slow time seems to crawl!
The reasons for your anxiety are multiple but let’s just settle for a few.
1. You are being judged! Yes indeed you are and perhaps for the very first time on such a comprehensive scale. You are being judged for your academic and testing performance. You are being rated on the involvement of your activities and my goodness – on your personality and your writing/communication skills.
2. The unknown – With the complexity of admissions today and the ever changing aspects of the admission process, mostly unknown or vaguely alluded to on school websites, it is hard to know what schools are looking for and more importantly how they are rating the incoming class. What does holistic review really mean anyway?
3. The unfairness of it all – you’re right, the process is not fair, not equal and thus prone to creating anxiety in every student engaged in the process.
4. Did I choose my schools correctly? Questioning your judgment on school choice? Are my safe schools really safe? Was I unrealistic in my reach schools? Was I insane to choose that Top Ranked School? What was I thinking? I should have applied to 30 schools instead of 10!
5. Will I ever go to boarding school or university?
Those are some of the questions rummaging about and while all of them have some truth, most of them are idle imaginations of your brain operating on a lack of information propelled by the media, friends and parents (yes, they are part of this conversation).
As to point number 1: Yes you are being judged but it is important to remember that no matter what the decision a school comes back with, their decision is NOT a personal indictment on you, your character, your wellbeing (well maybe for a bit if the news is disappointing) or your future. The admission process is about numbers, no, not mathematical equations, but sheer numbers of applicants. In most cases, unless you shot too high, you are competing against vast numbers of students with a variety of backgrounds and personalities.
And while you are being compared by admission committees, each applicant is unique. You are unique, you are qualified you are exceptional So, why didn’t the school accept you? Numbers, pure and simple. Perhaps not quite so simple as that, but the point is, you did the hard work and developed a great application. The very best schools turn down even the best students, with unimaginable resumes and accolades. There are just too many students to choose from, so it is important to not take a rejection personally. Hard I know, but my response to that is they can’t see your exceptional qualities, they are missing out.
Numbers 2 and 3: Yep, the application process is filled with unknowns and it is not fair. It cannot be fair, particularly when schools use a holistic process. But in choosing to apply to the U.S., that was a given going in. But if you focused on the “Fit” the hope it is that school will focus on “what are we getting from this applicant that will enhance our school and our community?” and you will get positive replies in March.
Numbers 4 and 5: For #4, hopefully you did your research well, created a solid list of Reach, Core and Foundation schools and your essays and all other information you provided will hold up under the scrutiny of the admission committee. You will go to school next year. Hopefully, in the end your dreams will not be dashed but if they are, remember this, no school will make you successful. Your success is in your court. You may need to readjust the path to get where you want to be. It’s ok, life is still good and the earth will still revolve around the sun.
Of course, most of this article is focused on “if things go bad”. Life is uncertain but the main point I want to make is this – you will have choices. Failure is an opportunity and while sometimes harsh or upsetting, it is important to manage your expectations and be realistic. We all get what we need, not always what we want. Making lemonade still takes a process.
One of the most important things to do while the wait is on, is to focus on what is at hand – doing well in school. While there maybe some nagging feelings of impending doom, most of the time these feelings are baseless. Focus on what is right in front of you. As the old saying goes, “the journey of a 1000 miles takes one step at a time. “
So, don’t take rejection personally. Focus on the positives and most importantly focus on today, it is the present of life!