How to Make the EA Wait Great

On October 31st, 2010 I pressed the button.  I finally finished my Early Action application to Yale.  As I clicked “Submit,” I thought to myself, “Wow.  I just applied to college.”  After weeks of taking standardized tests and writing essays, the application process was all over.  But the wait had just begun. 

That night, I couldn’t fall asleep.  I tried to get inside the mind of my admissions officer.  What would he think?  Would she like me?  Had I presented myself in the best possible way?  As I tossed and turned, I reviewed my application in my head.  All of a sudden, I couldn’t remember if I had written “The Western Canon” in my personal essay with one “n” or two.  I wondered how I was going to survive the next 45 days. 

The next day at school, everyone was talking about their applications.  It was clear that I was not the only one who was worried about EA.  The behavior of my friends echoed my own anxiety.  Each and every one of us was wondering, “There must be something else that I can do.”  I hoped that this feeling would diminish after the first day.  Unfortunately, it did not.  For the following two weeks, I couldn’t think about anything besides my application.  I found it hard to focus on my work and my extracurricular activities.  For lack of better words, I was “freaking out.”

But at a certain point, something changed.  I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Noam! Snap out of this.”  I realized that I couldn’t spend the next month and a half obsessing about an application that was out of my hands.  I had done what I needed to do.  It was time to let it go.  Now, all I could do was wait.  Although it was hard to come to this realization, it was the healthiest choice that I made in the entire college process.

After I realized that I could no longer change my application, I was able to move on.  I started writing other supplements.  I focused on my schoolwork and become more involved in my extracurricular activities.  I spent more time with my friends and family.  I listened to music, read a book, and saw a movie for the first time in a while.   I relaxed a bit.  I had fun. 

This doesn’t mean that I stopped working hard at school.  On the contrary, I did everything in my power to avoid “senioritis.”  I turned my attention from the “then” to the “now.”  Instead of worrying about what I could have done or what would come to be, I chose to live in the present.

We each deal with waiting in our own way.  Some people worry, others distract themselves, and others simply move on.  So it’s okay to be nervous and it’s okay to be excited.  It’s okay to feel something else and it is okay feel nothing at all.  Applying to college is a big deal and should be taken seriously.  But it is not the be all and end all of your life.  As my friend and fellow blogger Josh wrote last spring, “In this [stressful] time of year, remember that this is a journey, and regardless of the name of the school you attend, it is your duty to create your own happiness.”  In his post, (“My Admissions Story”) Josh was talking about the end result of the college process.  I believe that this idea is also applicable to the wait before Early Action and Regular Decision results are released. 

Although some things are in your hands during this process, ultimately, the decision of admissions committee is not.  What is in your hands, however, is the ability to create your own peace of mind.  It is up to you to shape your senior year.  Regardless of where this journey ends, how would you like to remember this year?  Will it be a year of applications and anxiety, or will it be a year of personal discovery and growth?  The choice is yours.  Looking back on the past year, coming to peace with the college process made all the difference.