Why Waiting For a College Decision Is Worse Than Knowing the Outcome


By Ruth Kramer ’18, Editor-In-Chief

The college application process is one of the most stressful things I have ever undergone in my entire life. Imagine the pressure of friends, family, educators, and worst of all, yourself, weighing on you while your future hangs in the balance. Whether a high school senior decided to go Early Decision I, Early Decision II, Early Action, or Regular Decision, the stress is the same and fear remains constant. With Mid-December right in our midst (and exams less than a week away), many CCDS seniors are beginning to feel the pressure to finish and submit applications or worse, they’re waiting to hear back. Waiting. It’s absolutely the worst part of the college application game. Yes, writing essays that are worth reading is hard and filling out an activities resume is a challenge, but the waiting is what hurts the most. But why? Why is that that we can withstand the pressure of finishing applications along with the stress of senior year classes, but we begin to break and crumble during the waiting period? It’s simple: we have the time to think about it.

Currently, many students are getting their Early Decision and Early Action results back from a various amount of colleges. From state schools to small, liberal arts colleges to top-tier Ivy Leagues, students sit on their hands and wait for pieces of their future to be determined. With the benefits of Early Decision and Early Action also comes the cons: the possibility of not getting in, watching as your friends do get in, but most of all, the waiting to receive the letter or email. It’s torture to open your email every hour on the hour because the college might release their decisions early. It’s awful to go home and hope for a letter that may possibly come a few days ahead of schedule. And it’s not the actual time that’s hard, it’s what the time means. Nothing matters in those moments except for that one, single decision.

Many of the symptoms of Early Decision waiting are about the inability to do things. Personally, I had a lot of trouble sleeping and would toss and turn into the wee hours of the morning. And the whole time I would just be thinking “what if” or I would make up scenarios in my head. What would I do if I got deferred? Rejected? What if I get accepted without enough money? So many thoughts running through your head makes it hard to slow down and even get some sleep. Many friends I have spoken with have complained of lack of sleep as well as an inability to focus in class. If a class requires a computer for notes or a presentation, every student has their Outlook open waiting for a response. Or if your computer has to be closed, then you waste even more time thinking that the email could have come while your computer was shut. It’s a vicious cycle of worry and wait; a cycle that’s impossible to escape from. So, how do you escape from it? There’s no real answer to that. Some exercise, some write, some sleep, some don’t do anything. Whatever a student can do to relax during the Early Decision period, they do.

To be totally honest, hearing back from a college is a tad underwhelming. Maybe pixelated confetti rains down or your name and graduation year is lit up in the school colors, but ultimately when you look at your letter, you’re searching for the words “Congratulations” or “Unfortunately”. But a student waits and waits and waits and in the end, you realize what your letter truly is: a letter. It doesn’t determine who you are or what you’ll be. It just gives an idea of what the next four years of your life might look like. Getting into a college doesn’t make you “Person A who got into College X” and getting rejected doesn’t make you “Person B who didn’t get into College Y”. You’re still you. You’re still all your memories and moments of laughter. You’re still the person who your friend can cry to, you’re still a person who tutors a struggling classmate. The waiting hurts and the decision weighs, but at the end of the day, the wait is just a few weeks and the decision is just a statement. And aren’t we all so much more than that?