5 Things to Keep in Perspective During College Admissions Season

It’s that time of year again — college admissions season. Whether you’re super excited or super nervous about heading off to college, there are some things to keep in perspective when you’re waiting to hear back from the schools you applied to. We talked to current collegiettes about what they wish they knew when they heard back from colleges. Be sure to keep these five things in mind when opening those long-awaited decision letters.

1. Dream schools aren’t always realistic

Having a dream school can end up hurting you down the road. There's nothing worse than disappointment.

Abby Piper, a junior at the University of Notre Dame, thinks the idea of “one perfect school” is a little insane. “It's cool to have a dream school, but keep in mind that college is whatever you make of it,” she says. “Where you are accepted [or] rejected really should not and cannot determine the fate of your college experience.” She’s so right!

Even if you do get accepted to your *dream school*, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t always mean you can go there. Elizabeth Wolfe, a sophomore at Agnes Scott College, was thrilled when she got accepted to New York University, but then she “quickly realized that I would not be able to go because of the minute amount of financial aid I had received,” she says. “I think if I had been more realistic, I would not have been so devastated.” Keep in mind that dream schools don’t always work out, and that’s okay!

2. Rejection doesn’t always mean you weren’t qualified

There’s no denying it — getting a rejection letter hurts. But don’t let those rejections discourage you. Colleges take a lot into consideration when accepting students!

“I wish someone had told me how much some schools take in-state/out-of-state status into account during their decision making process,” says Caitlin Barkley, a sophomore at Clemson University. “That can become a major factor in some rejection letters, and it's easy to get discouraged if you don't realize that.”

Abby had a similar experience. She applied to a lot of top-tier schools and the rejection letters she got killed her confidence. “What I would advise to people applying to Ivy League or really competitive schools is that the admission process is actually pretty arbitrary,” she says. “Not getting in doesn't necessarily mean you weren't qualified, but at some point, so many applicants have all of the credentials [and] it boils down to the preference of the admissions people, which can be pretty subjective.” Had Abby realized this sooner, she may not have ended up so upset. It’s all about perspective!

Related: 4 Tips for Surviving Second Semester of Senior Year

3. Apply for scholarships

While you’re waiting to hear back from schools, applying for scholarships is super important! There are tons of scholarships out there that can help cut down college costs.

Ashley Drayton, a 2015 graduate from Georgia State University, wishes she “applied for scholarships, took them seriously, and actively looked for ones that would have helped with tuition.” Unfortunately, getting acceptances won’t be meaningful unless you can afford to go to the school. Check out websites like Fastweb and Scholarships.com.

4. Don’t focus all your attention on college

Don’t let worrying about college applications take over your senior year. It’s your last year of high school, so you want to be enjoying it!

“Try to find a balance between submitting applications and talking about college-related things with enjoying senior year by going to sports games, doing activities in your home town, talking to your friends about things other than college and just generally staying present where you are!” says Molly Crum, a senior at James Madison University. This is your last year of high school. Don’t let it pass you by!

5. Remember that everything will work itself out

Waiting to get acceptances (or rejections) may seem super daunting, but there’s something you should remember: Everything turns out exactly how it’s supposed to.

Taylor Carson, a senior at Temple University, had always dreamed of going to college out of state. “After a lot of discussion with my mom about waiting to hear back from schools where I was waitlisted, I decided to stay in state and go to Temple on scholarship,” she says. “I don't regret my decision for a single second. At the time, I remember wondering if I was settling, but I have since realized that it doesn't matter where you go. What does matter is what you do with the opportunities in front of you when you get there — wherever ‘there’ might be.”

We love this advice! No matter where you end up, it’s all about your attitude and taking advantage of what’s in front of you.

There’s no denying that college admissions season is nerve-wracking, but there’s no reason to stress — you’re going to end up exactly where you’re supposed to be. If you keep these things in mind, you won’t have any regrets later. Don’t forget that college is all about what you make of it. Good luck, future collegiettes!

Rachel graduated from the Honors College at James Madison University in May 2017 and is pursuing a career in the media/PR industry. She majored in Media Arts & Design with a concentration in journalism and minored in Spanish and Creative Writing. She loves spending time with friends and family, traveling, and going to the beach.

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