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Jan 02 2018
by Lily Brickman

7 Tips on How to Handle College Decisions

By Lily Brickman - Jan 02 2018
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With college decisions for the class of 2022 beginning to roll in, I couldn’t help but think back to where I was one year ago in the process. I’d anxiously submitted the last of my applications, and the relieving but simultaneously daunting part of the process was ahead: the waiting. The decisions and discussions that would happen about my file on various desks in a variety of colleges across the country for the next three months were beyond my control. I made up scenarios in my head justifying a potential rejection even before it happened, and fantasized about acceptances that might. To keep yourself sane this college decision season, remember these seven tips.

1. Expand the list of where you can see yourself, and do research.

People tend to set their minds on one or two reach schools they’d absolutely love to go to, but this only sets you up for further heartbreak if you don’t get in. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try your best with your application, reach out to the school’s counselors and follow up whenever appropriate, but at the end of the day, you never know. If you look for things you like in a school that might be in your target range, it becomes a lot more feasible and will cushion the fall if you don’t get your top choices.


2. Where you end up is where you belong.

Generally, people adapt to the situations they’re in. You will find friends. You will find classes you like. Dining halls are hardly ever amazing. There are cons to every school, and going to your dream school may not have been all it was made out to be. The last thing you want to do is constantly fixate on why you didn’t get in and someone else did– use that energy to get comfortable in your new environment.


3. Happiness over prestige. 

Although this one takes a bit of time to warm up to, remember that college is a whole four years of your life, and you want it to be memorable. If you were the person that loved going out in high school and spending a ton of time with your friends, maybe it’s not so bad you didn’t get into the school “where fun goes to die” or a similar stereotype. You’d much rather have great friends and a strong social life than focus entirely on academics and only be able to brag about it on your resume. It will get old. When you realize everyone at your school also got accepted and is just as smart or smarter than you, the name will get old in weeks. Know what you like and choose where you will be happiest.


4. Don’t make up scenarios.

I was very guilty of this in the waiting period and even afterwards, but it will get you nowhere. Don’t weigh your test score against someone else’s grades (that you’re probably not even sure of anyway). Don’t say someone’s extracurricular activities outdo yours. Don’t say “I think my supplements were better but her transcript is better.” Making up scenarios will only confuse you more when decisions roll around, and there is absolutely no correlation with the justifications I made up and the ultimate decisions. I know waiting is hard, but just let yourself be a couple degrees removed from the process and everything will work itself out.


5. Understand that much of the college experience is universal.

Yes, some schools party harder and some are just known to have stronger academics, but ultimately, when everyone comes back for break, you’re talking about the same things. Everyone has a mandated writing class, general education requirements, parties, events, clubs and more. Colleges want to be well-rounded and attract well-rounded students. They will put in place fun events and ways to help with classes if you’re having trouble. Other than a few things here and there, your college experience will be very similar to that of your friends.


6. Remember that transferring is always an option.

If absolutely nothing worked out the way you wanted it to, you can always go through the transfer process. Let yourself find comfort in this. Transfer acceptance rates are generally higher simply because there are far less people applying, and at this point, you’ve already showed interest in a school if you applied as a first-year. Most people who go into freshman year intending to transfer end up liking their school anyway, but the option is always there.


7. Be happy but humble.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating an acceptance, but remember that everyone is going through the same process. Don’t rub it in someone’s face– you never know if they applied as well and didn’t get in. Getting rejected from a school you really wanted to go to can be heartbreaking so celebrate with the people that matter to you and ones you’re closest to; you don’t need validation from others. You never know whose feelings you’re hurting.


So, class of 2022 and future classes, brace yourselves, but remember that it isn’t the end of the world. Your college experience is almost entirely what you make of it so don’t dwell in what you couldn’t change. A lot of opportunities are about being in the right place at the right time, and much less your exact major and the school you studied at. Don’t think too much about the applications, and just let yourself wait. Good luck!

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Lily Brickman - University of Southern California

Lily Brickman is a freshman at the University of Southern California majoring in communication and minoring in linguistics. At her high school, she was on the soccer team and in the French club, and also taught German at the German Language School in NYC. She loves photography, traveling, playing guitar and writing. Follow her on Instagram @lilybrickman!

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