Springtime for College Applicants

Maybe there is still snow in your yard from the Winter of 2013-14. Maybe the wind is howling outside your window right now. If you have a front yard and it’s mercifully not covered with snow, your grass is no doubt brown and looking dead. For college-seeking high school seniors, this has been a long, hard winter for a number of reasons other than the weather. The college application process can be a long, agonizing process. The actual application submission season traditionally stretches from November 1 to January 1, with a number of exceptions that can add days before and after that two-month window. Some schools have rolling admissions and others offer an elongated calendar that stretches into February, or even later in the year. Thus, many of you seniors have been under some level of stress and deadline pressure for some time.

Cheer up, though. Spring is just around the corner, just a week away as of this writing. With the arrival of spring comes the arrival of admission decisions, good news, disappointing news, and limbo news. The good news, of course, comes in the form of happy “thumbs up,” welcoming you to some (or maybe even all) of your sought-after schools. The bad news, naturally, brings you thumbs down. Some of these southern-pointing thumbs can be terribly distressing, especially if you have rationalized a list of reasons extolling all the virtues your applications have trumpeted about yourself. Your detailed research may have revealed that you appear to be a perfect fit with past accepted applicants, as reported by those colleges of their Web sites. When you come face to face with the reality of rejection, many times it’s hard not to feel like you’ve had a punch in the stomach.

Perhaps the worst news you can get is the “limbo” news. This is the infamous waitlist letter (or email) that informs you that you’re neither in nor out. The college is saying, “We think you’re good enough to attend here but we’ll let you in only if enough of the others we’ve already admitted don’t show up and we have a slot for you.” Yuck. That big fat “if” condition puts you squarely on the road to Suspense City. What will happen? You have no idea. You cling to a tenuous shred of hope but know in your heart that a waitlisted applicant’s chances for ultimate admission are slim, indeed. Yes, some do get in but very few, if any, do. That’s the agony of the waitlist.

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