Somehow the admission frenzy has managed to scare our kids—even those at the top of the academic ladder—into thinking that their chances of getting into college are slim and getting slimmer each year. Instead of indulging in needless worry and anxiety, there are some constructive things seniors in high school can do while they wait to learn what their final college options are:
• First and foremost, relax and enjoy your senior year and last months living at home. Although it may seem as though you can’t wait to live on your own, this final year is memorable and precious. It will be gone in a flash. Make it count in meaningful ways.
• Continue to be actively engaged in doing your best academic work. This is critical because colleges review final transcripts to be certain no courses were dropped and grades did not plummet. If something does change for the better (like a scholarship is awarded) or for the worse (like a drop in grades due to illness), be proactive and communicate the news directly to the colleges.
• Visit schools you were not able to see yet. Don’t wait for the responses to visit these campuses. The decision deadline, May 1st, arrives soon after admission decisions—so be prepared. If academic or financial concerns make visiting impossible, continue to familiarize yourself with colleges in other ways. Read blogs, examine course catalogues, review housing considerations, email faculty, students and undergraduate admission counselors in order to make comparisons that will help you make an informed decision.
The Dreaded Wait-List
Colleges build a waiting list to ensure full freshman classes, since not all accepted students will enroll. This system is hard on students and their parents. If you get a wait list notice, decide whether you really want to attend the school before you agree to remain on the list. If you are accepted, you will only have a few days to decide. Also, investigate conditions attached to being wait-listed; you can lose priority housing or financial aid options. Some schools rank waiting lists. If you can learn where you place on the wait-list, you will be a better position to examine your options. Remember, schools will not decide who will be admitted off the waiting list until the May 1st decision deadline has passed. So you will need to prepare to attend another school by sending in a deposit. If you are admitted off the wait-list, you will forfeit your deposit.
It is most important to have confidence in yourself. Research shows that most students get in to their first or second choice school. This is especially true if you have built a realistic and balanced college list. Remember, your life is much bigger than an acceptance or rejection letter from a particular college. You will get through college admission and develop maturity and resilience as a result.
Elizabeth LaScala Ph.D. guides college, transfer and graduate school applicants through the complex world of admissions. She develops best match college lists, offers personalized interview and essay coaching, and tools and strategies to help students tackle each step of the admissions process with confidence and success. Elizabeth helps students from all backgrounds to maximize merit and financial aid awards. Visit www.doingcollege.com; Call (925) 891-4491 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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