I’ve tried to keep my mind off of where I’m going to college, with varying levels of success.
March is typically when colleges send out letters to high school seniors telling them whether they are admitted or not, leading to a very stressful month waiting for those letters to come.
How did I prepare myself for receiving these letters? I didn’t.
Did it work? Mostly, but I don’t know if I did a good job steeling myself for if a college told me no.
While other students were eagerly watching the calendar, I was reading, doing homework, listening to music, basically anything to get my mind off of college. Out of sight, out of mind was my mantra for this month. There was not much I could do after sending the applications in, so what use was there in stressing about if I got in or not?
One thing I think I should put out first was that a big reason this strategy kind of worked was because I was already accepted to a school. So the irrational fear that I would be rejected everywhere was over and done.
I thought that this was the best way to go through March. It also didn’t help that it was an incredibly busy month for me: less downtime meant less time thinking about college. I don’t think this would have worked if I didn’t have so much work to get done this month.
It worked pretty well for me through most of this month. I was stressed, but with the day-to-day activities and not where I was going to school next year. This stress is not a stranger to me, so I knew how to deal with it: get the work done.
When I thought about school, I got stressed, but with a different stress I didn’t really know how to handle: will I get into my dream schools? How I dealt with that was shoving it aside, and focusing on what I needed to do for the next day.
That was my strategy: don’t think about it. Out of sight, out of mind. And it worked, at least until I got my first letter this month.
It was a Friday evening, and I drove down with my younger brother to visit my older brother, a junior at Mount St. Mary’s University. We were watching Netflix when I got an email from the University of Chicago, one of my dream schools.
I wasn’t rejected, but I wasn’t accepted either. I was on their waiting list. Even though I wasn’t rejected, it still felt like a punch to the stomach because I knew it was a stretch for me to get accepted there. My test scores barely met the median score for students admitted, so there was a good chance I wouldn’t get in.
My mind started racing about how I could have avoided the possibility of rejection. Maybe I could have taken the tests earlier, so I would have more chances to retake them. Maybe I could have worked a bit harder at my classes to get a higher GPA. Maybe I could have joined one more club.
I had not figured out how to deal with this anxiety, because my strategy of dealing with college stress was not dealing with it. The kids who had stressed and stressed about these letters were better prepared for not being accepted because I hadn’t been thinking about how I’d react.
It’s not like I was rejected outright, either. There’s still a chance I could be going to Hyde Park next year. That’s what made my reaction seem that much more ridiculous to me, because my lack of preparation of dealing with college stress had led me to equate being put on a waiting list with a rejection.
If I had thought more about college, would my reaction to the letter from Chicago have been better? I don’t know the answer, and never will, but it’s that thought that made me think about if not thinking about hearing back from colleges was the best choice for me, as someone who lives on stress.
I guess I’m just going to have to wait for more letters to see if I’m right or wrong.