Confessions From The College Front Line: Waiting Game

Welcome to Confessions From The College Front Line, where I will take you through the college process in real time. I hope to shed light on what the process is like and offer some general reflections on the craziness.

People never tell you how truly long you have to wait during the college process. The whole thing is mostly just waiting to see if you’re in, rejected, get money, etc. I finished all of my 13 applications by the second week of January including writing supplements, interviews, and many extra scholarship or honor college applications. Immediately after submitting that final seemingly monumental application, a weight flew off my shoulders and I felt like I could breathe again. I am finally done with my end of the college process. 

However, not long after the weight eased, I realized that I would be stuck in the unknown zone for another two months. The next four years of my life are sitting in limbo as I wait for decisions to come in. Every time my computer dings with a message I inhale thinking that it could be the notification of a decision. All this waiting can be a bit exhausting. 

The strain of waiting is compounded by all the questions. Every single person imaginable has asked me about college. It’s not just people I am close to but acquaintances, or even strangers. When anyone discovers I am a high school senior, they want to know where I am going to college (I wouldn’t mind knowing myself). I awkwardly explain that I’m not sure where I’m going yet and spend the next few minutes thinking about all the different ways my decision could go. These occasions are awkward, not only because I don’t know where I will be attending, but also because the schools on my list are not well known. Most are small liberal arts colleges located all over the United States. When people who don’t know you ask about college, they want to hear that you’re going to a school they’ve heard of so that you can chat about it with them. When the people who care about me want to know, that makes the decisions all the more weighty and frightening. Not knowing anything is taxing. 

As the year goes on, fielding questions makes going to college feel all the more impending and real. Soon enough I will be able to tell people where I am actually going and I’ll be getting ready to move. Just last week the juniors had their college counseling kick off event where they heard all about the college process from students, teachers, parents, and seniors . They were nervous and it was fun to remember being in their shoes not that long ago. Senior year truly makes one feel older and wiser. Climbing up the metaphorical mountain of the college process makes me feel secure in the fact that we can and will live through the rest of this momentous year. It seems like everything’s coming up and coming up fast. 

The other night one of my friends mentioned the actual date she will be heading to school, and the entire thing became real to me all of a sudden. As the decision-making time draws closer, the anticipation and “dreaming big” mentality is starting to fade. I will actually be moving out of my house to live in another state – that’s big and scary and exciting. All of these feelings escalate the waiting — boy is this process draining for my young brain. In talking with Ms. Robinson, one of our college counselors, she discouraged me from feeling helpless or bogged down by this season of waiting. She reminded me that this period is  a chance for seniors to step away from the process and enjoy their last few months as a highschooler. So with that in mind, I have started to shift my thinking, and it seems like I am not alone in this. 

Seniors all around me are doing weird and fun things that they never would have done last year at this time in the school year. People are hanging out after school, going on adventures during their free periods, and getting closer as a grade. People that you would never expect are becoming friends. Last week I went to a hip hop class and on Friday a big group of us had a spoof dress up premiere party for the release of a new Netflix rom-com. When we are no longer trying to perform for colleges, we are able to have more fun and relaxed discussions in class as well. My English class has started reading George Orwell’s 1984 and is simply having a blast connecting it to current events. Unlike the beginning of the year when we were competing and running on no sleep, the senior class has truly embraced the joys of not knowing, and all the freedom that comes with that. 

So yes, this period in the year can be a lot of overthinking, but it is also an awesome chance to finally act like a teenager. I hope that as a class we can continue in the place we are right now even as we wait to make decisions about our futures.