My grad school applications were due on February 15th. Just as I expected, I spent my entire Valentines Day getting everything submitted. I was working like a chicken with its head cut off bouncing between my personal statements, references, and my resume to get it all done on time. Once I finally got everything submitted, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Shortly after, though, the panic of “what now?” set in. If you can relate, here are some of my strategies for coping in this stressful time of awaiting decisions for grad school.
- Do not check your application status every day
When the school that you’re applying to has an application portal that gives you your status, it can be tempting to keep that tab open on your computer and update it every day. I highly recommend against that; it can be stressful to be thinking about being admitted every single day. Also, it is normal for admissions decisions to take months, and keeping that tab open is not going to make it happen any faster.
- Focus on finishing your last semester strong.
Once applications are in, it can be easy to check out for the rest of the semester. I know that I still have six classes and a practicum to keep me busy (as well as avoiding the thought of graduation and becoming a real adult.) Getting my coursework done is something that I know I have control over, which is helpful for me since I have no control over my application now that it’s submitted.
- Have a back-up plan.
Whether you’re applying to grad school or jobs, the thought of “what if I don’t get in/it?” is going to pass through your mind. I have found it helpful to make a back-up plan to help calm that anxiety. For my back-up plan, I applied for a year-long service program that will give me experience in my field as well as give me time to apply for another round of schools again if I choose. There are a lot of alternatives to going right into grad school, like working or travelling, so have a back-up plan that will allow you to do something you love and be able to support yourself.
- Focus on enjoying your last few weeks of undergrad.
I’m sure you’re feeling like the past four years have been a blur; where did the time go and how am I graduating in two months? I’ve definitely been feeling nostalgic about my time here at UofSC lately, so I’m trying to focus on enjoying everything college has to offer before I go, like picnics on the horseshoe and walking through all of Columbia. Taking these moments to remember everything that you’ve done here can help you feel at peace as you move on.
- Finding a new hobby.
Applying to grad school is time consuming- between writing and editing personal statements, recruiting references and working out your resume; some days it was even a struggle to find time to eat. Now that everything’s submitted, you might have some extra free time. It’s a great opportunity to revisit old hobbies, or even incorporate a new one into your schedule. Maybe you picked up knitting or baking when lockdown started, but with classes and everything, you lost track of those habits. Now is a great time to get back into it and let these hobbies help you destress as finals approach too!
I promise, you’re not going through this period alone. It is really hard to sit in this waiting period, especially when people around you are getting jobs and apartment hunting in glamorous new cities. You’re going to get through this whether your admissions decision is what you are hoping for or not; everything happens for a reason and you are still going to do amazing things.