by Neil Chyten
If you were among the millions of students who applied to college in 2020 through either Early Action or Early Decision, you are now very likely to be experiencing emotions ranging from jubilation to desperation. For those students who were accepted to their first-choice college, we offer our heartfelt congratulations for a job well done. Your acceptance to your Early Decision (ED) college is the culmination of 12 years of hard work, important decisions, and significant sacrifices. While the road ahead will still be full of challenges, you can look back with pride and know that, over the past 12 years, you have successfully negotiated your way through the maelstrom and into the eye of the hurricane. Undoubtedly, the road ahead will be filled with turbulence, but you deserve all the pride and joy that you are now feeling knowing that your path has already been determined.
If you did not receive an acceptance from your ED–I school and then elected to apply using the ED-II option at another school, you will have to wait until you hear from your ED-II School before accepting any other offers that may come in. If you were accepted to one or more colleges through Early Action (EA), congratulations are still in order. However, as EA is a non-binding decision, you are likely facing a difficult decision that must, in most cases, be made by May 1, but can be made as early as the day you receive the offer. It should be noted that May 1 is beyond the notification dates all of your regular decision (RD) colleges. So, you will likely be armed with many more possibilities if you wait before replying to an EA letter of acceptance.
What all this means is that for all students who did not receive an ED-I letter of acceptance, the longest three months of your life is about to begin. Undoubtedly, you are questioning whether you will receive an acceptance from any college since you were already rejected from the one you felt fit you the best. This self-doubt is universal and understandable. However, assuming that your list contained reaches, targets, and safeties, you will likely have college options from which to choose. Nonetheless, this uncertainty can lead to stress, self-doubt, anxiety, and an unsettling feeling of not knowing where you will be living a mere eight months from today. You make feel cut off from your familiar and comfortable everyday existence.
Many times over my career I have talked students out of this blinding funk of uncertainty. So, when I tell you are not alone you should believe me. In virtually all cases this self-doubt is unjustified. It is pretty certain that you are going to get into a good college. Even if it is not your first choice, you may learn to love it or you have options down the road such as transferring or setting your sights on a more prestigious graduate school.
To go back to my original point, if you are one of those students who did not get into his ED-I school, you should expect to feel a range of emotions. Quite frankly, it would be unnatural if this were not the case. It means that you care deeply about your education and about where you go to college. But you should try to control these emotions because you really don’t know what is coming around the bend at the end of March or the beginning of April when most colleges announce their acceptances. Since there is not much you can do, it is best to just focus on school, on your extracurricular activities, and on your emotional well-being. You can also use this period of time to improve your test scores, though test dates and locations are evaporating quicker than a drop of water on a hot tin roof. Just do your best. That is all you should expect of yourself, and all that others should expect of you as well.