A month ago the Regular Decision application deadline passed and thousands of high school seniors entered "The Waiting Phase." As the calendar turns to February, most applicants would agree that the next two months of anticipation might be the most difficult part of the whole college admissions process. For those who submitted their applications way before the January 1 deadline this waiting phase is even longer. I do sympathize with you all, but not too much though, since for the next two months my colleagues and I are inundated with evaluating all of your applications. While some of you lie awake at night trying to predict what will happen at the end of March, my colleagues and I lie awake at night reading application wondering if the end of March will ever arrive.
The keys to the next two months are patience and distraction. I respect that the first concept is hard to accept, but being patient and allowing the process to work is your only option. When on vacations, my family has this phrase we always say: "Hurry up, and wait!" Whenever this is stated by a family member it is a reminder to be patient and a reminder that we are on vacation so stress shouldn't be present. Think of these next two months as a vacation from the college admissions process ... be patient and realize that stress will get you nowhere. It is out of your hands now.
In my experience the best way to remain patient is to remain distracted. Remaining busy the next two months is great as it will keep your mind off the pending decisions. But I realize this is new territory for you all, so I thought I would present you all with a list of ways to remain distracted throughout February and March. I hope some of these help, and feel free to share you own distraction tools in the comments section:
* De-construct every bit of information possible about the final season of LOST.
* Enjoy your senior year. Get excited for your prom, your senior trip, your graduation, and all the other great things that come with being in your final year of high school.
* Spend quality time with your friends and family. Take lots of pictures that will be important to you when you are away at college next fall.
* See all the Oscar nominated films before the Academy Awards air on March 7th.
* Start preparing for college. Learn how to cook easy meals. Learn how to do laundry. Talk about money management.
* Stay engaged with your school work. Senior year matters. And stay active with your extracurriculars too (they can be a great distraction).
* Consider creating a college bucket list ... all the things you want to accomplish before you get your bachelor's degree.
* Virtually visit the colleges you have applied to, to see if you can learn something new. For instance, with Hopkins you should be checking out resources like our Academics Blog or the various links in the @Hopkins section of Hopkins Interactive.
* Support the NHL. It is a truly great sport and will only get better during the Olympics. And if you are looking for a team to support may I suggest the Washington Capitals who just won their 11th straight game. Feel free to be a front-runner.
* Do not stalk admissions counselors. Let us do our work.
* Make the ultimate iTunes playlist.
* Participate in strange "off-topic" discussions on the Hopkins Forums.
* Create your own language. If James Cameron could do it for Avatar, how hard could it be.
* If you haven't done it yet, send thank you notes to those who assisted with your college applications, wrote your letters of recommendation ... and yes that includes your guidance counselor.
* Stay tuned to the Hopkins Insider blog throughout the month of February and early March as we will present our annual opportunity to Meet the Admissions Committee.
One last piece of advice before I head back to my "ready to review" queue of applications. Try as hard as possible to not participate in the admissions frenzy these next two months. To remain patient and distracted, you have to stay away from the frenzy. By frenzy I mean the daily articles that appear in newspapers and Web sites about college admissions. You've seen them ... articles about more applicants than ever, about how competitive it will be to get into college this year, about strategies for improving your application after you apply, or about any other topic semi-related to college admissions that feed off of applicants during the waiting phase. And yes the frenzy definitely includes Web sites like College Confidential, which in my opinion visiting that site might be the worst thing you can do while you wait for decisions to be released.
So remain distracted, do not have a countdown, and enjoy your senior year. The light at the end of the tunnel is near.