How do you handle the wait for a decision?

So my D did not apply anywhere early or rolling (despite my suggestions) so now we are in for the long wait 'till March. Many of her friends have already gotten in to college and some have even decided where they are going. She is really feeling stressed…no more than stressed…completely freaked out and absolutely sure she will not get in ANYWHERE!!!

This is really so stressful (and I have another child doing the same thing next year…I am not going to make it. ;))

I go to a boarding school and my mom would actually text me photos of acceptance letters. Stay away from the portals that colleges have that let you view your status… It will drive you crazy. Some of the ways I cope with the waiting game is I try and think about “right now”. You will only be a senior In high school once, go to a game, get involved in a club… Find ways to keep yourself busy and enjoy the time with your friends. I know it sounds very cliché but it is the truth… My wrestling season is really long and intense so going to practice and meets allows me to have other things on my mind… The sad reality is that a lot of people are hearing earlier and it might cause a lot of stress not knowing your future… But instead of wasting time worrying… Find ways to keep yourself busy like listening to music or spending more time with the family

Did she apply to any (ideally more than one!) solid safeties, @“Queen’s Mom”?

If she did, I’d focus on them for the time being. If she gets into something more competitive come March, it will be a pleasant surprise!

Thank you, Hero45. I will try to focus her on that. Yes, she did apply to schools I think are safeties, but at this point, she is focusing solely on the top of her list, which was pretty reachy. She has at least 3 schools that she would like very much, from which if she were rejected, I would be shocked…I could barely get her out of bed today: her stomach hurt; her head ached…this is a child who LOVES school. I’ve never had this problem with her.

We went through the same thing with our daughter three years ago. She didn’t have a top choice, so she wisely didn’t apply anywhere ED. With the exception of a likely letter from Wellesley in February, which helped, she heard nothing from the colleges until March, and yes, the wait was very hard.

Part of the problem is that so many kids apply ED, so a lot of their friends know where they are going long before March. Kids who don’t do this feel behind somehow.

When our son went through the process last year, he did have a first choice and applied ED. Then he got deferred, waitlisted, and rejected, so that was another rough few months.

Well, D DID apply to rolling admissions colleges and heard from several rather quickly. Others she used EA and heard from them. Her “top choice” only came through last week, though, so I get the stress of waiting. HOWEVER, she made it a point to apply only to schools she would be willing to attend, so that if the financials do not work out, she won’t be “crushed” by the inability to go to any specific school. Sure, she has a favorite. But as she tells everyone, her favorite will be the one with the best package to offer within our parameters.

I’m concerned for your D, OP. There’s another 2 months before decisions arrive and she already can’t get out of bed from the stress-maybe some short-term counseling is in order? Or, you can take a look at the “Class of 2016” forum for stories about kids facing real, life-altering tragedies and share them with your D to give her some perspective.

DO HIGH SCHOOL. Seriously, second semester senior year can be, should be, great…grade pressure off, apps done, sats and junk over…join a club, a sport, get a job, make new friends or enjoy the last months with the old.

If she has to focus on college something, pick out dorm decor or go sheet shopping, make a pinterest dorm board. My kid played a spring sport so focused on that…grad party…prom, all the high school lasts. Actually during this time we also visited one of the schools she’d applied to but not been accepted to yet, and revisited one that had accepted her and had an early accepted student weekend. I know that last isn’t an option for you but maybe the first is. Especially if it’s a pretty sure bet she’ll get in.

And if she’s seriously stressing, I agree, get her some counseling.

As long as you applied to a good mix of reach, match and safety schools things will turn out fine. And next year insist your child apply to a couple of EA/rolling schools – it does relieve some stress.

Might you consider treating her to a massage?

If your school uses Naviance, printing off the scattergrams for the schools she applied to may make her comfortable that she will get in somewhere.

That sounds awful! That might give her false hopes.


The OP is saying her D is completely freaked out. That won’t help anyone. Right now she needs to calm down. Then then can assess which apps are outstanding, and whether they need to find s few more options.

I like the massage idea to, if it will help.

She needs to get active. She needs to focus on school so her grades don’t slip. Like @Hero45 suggests, get involved in school, enjoy that last year. Any exercise is good for the endorphins. Watch a movie for a mental escape. Volunteer work to put things in perspective and remember that there are other people out there with much more serious concerns. Have her talk to her college/guidance counselor who can put some context around it and hopefully make her relax a little (assuming she built a balanced list to apply to). Lots of family time. Force her to do these things until she’s out of her rut.

If things don’t improve soon, some counseling might be in order. It could be depression. Better to nip it in the bud early.

How did I handle the wait? I obsessively went on CC and thought about decisions and plans for every set of rejections/acceptances possible constantly.

How do I wish I had spent that time? Focusing on ECs, friends, books, and other things I care(d) about. And being more relaxed.

Its tough to do that - relax - but stressing out about it literally cannot do anything for you. My suggestion would be to suggest to her that she invest herself more in other things she cares about and likes, whatever those may be.

There’s definitely something to be said for some talking about letting go. She’s done everything she can, written the essays, taken the tests, gotten (most of) the grades. There’s literally nothing she can do to change things one way or the other at this point (except screw up her grades or not graduate) and acknowledging and reflecting on that can help a lot.

There is a really nice freeing sense of really getting that something is out of your hands that for me personally, greatly lessens anxiety around things I can’t control.

Another way to help with anxiety is to really talk through all of the possible outcomes. What happens in the best/medium/worst case scenarios? How will you feel? What will you do? What will next year look like? The next decade?

Even though the answers might not always be comfortable they are survivable.
This is a skill all kids need to develop.

@“Queen’s Mom” , is the stress worse on you, or on your daughter?

There are hundreds of thousands of kids in a similar situation to yours. Despite what you read here on CC, which seems skewed much more heavily toward more affluent families, most families are not in a financial position to be able to afford not needing to compare FA offers. So most simply cannot afford to apply to any binding ED program. There are plenty who find a good match at an EA school, but many kids get rejected or deferred from these, so they end up having to play the waiting game. March will be here soon enough.

As long as your D has included appropriate safety schools (both academic and financial) in her list, she should be fine.

In the meantime, consider this - since she has not heard early, she is perhaps a little less likely to be afflicted with Senioritis!

I think my stress is purely derivative. D has several good safeties and I’ve been through this with my oldest, so I’m positive she’ll get in somewhere good.

I relied on Plan B and a bottle of wine!
The wait is more difficult because so many students go EA or apply to schools that give decisions early. Easy to get nervous and anxious. It’s like being trapped in a time warp.

My son went to a private school that allowed you to wear college garb to school after you had been accepted. Which is nice but his college choice was one of last to make decisions in the calendar year (always a point of discussion because kids hold out waiting to make plans).
I think it bothered me a lot more than it bothered him. But at some point he was one of very few NOT wearing college garb. It was probably only a month or so–but a very long month before acceptances came out.

But really–my kid thought it was a FUNNY JOKE to text me to say he DIDN’T get in. The acceptances hadn’t come out yet but it was close to the time–I should have known better but my brain froze. He knew we (okay me) was paranoid ( realistic in my CC world).
On the good side–he’s still paying for it years later in the “mom guilt–you owe me and took years off my life!!” department. But it DID make me think fast–what were the alternatives? And we had more than one Plan B. Good.

My D did not apply EA/ED.
She did not seem to worry. She had a part-time job with decent pay and a volunteer job. She enjoyed the work and did not worry.

During the 3 weeks before decision days, I was travelling overseas. I checked email from her everyday but I stayed calm too. Finally I got the great news from her: accepted to her first choice.