So, by now, you have submitted your college applications. You spent many months working on them. You put together the required documents; your diploma, your proofs of awards, recommendation letters from experts in your field, paying for the application fees and attaching the receipts. After all the blood, sweat, and tears, you finally pushed that button and submitted your life summary to your dream colleges. What now? Do you feel empty, excited, and uneasy, all at the same time? Michael wrote this article to share his experience and steps that he took to make this waiting period easier.
I submitted applications to all the targeted schools by the first week of January and received the first result sometime in mid-March. Those were two of the most dreadful months of my life. There were a lot of uncertainties, questions, and curiosity going through my mind. For those of you who just submitted your applications for the 2018 intake, this may sound familiar. I hope that these tricks can help you focus on what is important; the present life.
1. Should one contact the Admission Office despite notes stating that you shouldn’t?
Absolutely not. Do not even think about sending an email asking; “Hey, can I check about the status of my application? Am I accepted to your department?”. Do not do it. As long as you did everything correctly when you submitted your applications and received a confirmation notice that your application has been submitted or received by the college, you are all set. But of course, the urge to ask is strong and admission committees at many colleges undoubtedly receive such emails even though they clearly state this warning on their websites. By sending them this type of email to check out your application result, you show that you do not heed their message and this will put you in a bad light. Moreover, you are giving the admission committee some extra work and it may slow them down.
What about emailing professors that you are interested to work with? Or contacting a faculty member you have just met at a conference in the past? I believe these are special instances where you can send a follow up email and mention that you have just applied to their college/department and that you are interested to work with them should you get an offer of acceptance. If you happen to meet the faculty member in a conference during your waiting period, that would be even better. Come prepared with questions about the department, their research, and mention that you are interested to work with them. It is ok to contact the faculty members you want to work with via email as well. Who knows they may like your academic profile and past accomplishments. Maybe you built a good rapport when you met them at a conference in the past. They may have the power to influence the decision of the admission committee. However, keep in mind not to hard press them to help with your applications. It all hinges on their opinion about you and your credentials. It may also be worthwhile to ask this faculty member whether they are accepting new students this year. If they do not, you can then quickly refocus your attention to another faculty member who you would like to work with.
2. Focus to live in the present
While you are waiting for your college application results, you cannot just stand still. Life goes on and you have to keep going with your current work, study or else. The period between the application submission and the roll-out of the application results can range from few weeks to several months. Waiting time of 3-4 months is not unheard of. If you slow down in your actual routines, that is a lot of missed time and opportunity. To some, especially those who put a lot of effort, time, and energy into their applications, it is natural to feel a lot of pressure during the waiting time and the feeling may incapacitate them from performing at their best at work. However, it must be fought and can be effectively fought with some simple tricks.
The first trick to take your mind off your college application results is to have a clear back up plan. Think about the next big thing you want to do should all the applications fail to go through. Find the next best thing you want to do in your life. Write it down on your calendar or on a post-it note pasted on your wall. Tell yourself that you’ll do that one thing if your applications turns out to be unfruitful. It may also be worth adopting an alternate perspective; if you have put so much effort, time and energy into something and yet, you cannot achieve it, your best talent and opportunity may lie in some other untapped territories. And you have plenty of time ahead of you to find that golden opportunity!
The second trick you can do to keep you focused at your current work or study is to simply take on more responsibilities, more difficult tasks, or more interesting problems to solve. Take a class or a mini project that you always have been genuinely wanting to pursue. When you are deep in your thoughts into something, you will forget about the world and everything else is blurry images. By taking on bigger projects, you are also beefing up your resume. It is a great way to be productive and at the same time, to distract your mind from the lingering thoughts about your college applications.
3. Be social and surround yourself with people
Since the waiting period can be very unsettling to some and being lonely definitely does little to help, it is always productive to up your social time and get active with doing stuffs with your friends. Whenever you are surrounded by people and your days are filled up with works or activities with friends, you keep your mind active and do not give a chance to those lingering thoughts about your college applications to make you feel uneasy. Based on my own personal experience, hanging out with some friends and being social at work tremendously help me get through the 3 months period of my waiting for the college application results. I did not curl up in my own comfort zone and irrationally keep checking my inbox every five minutes. And the reason was because I was busy talking and spending time with my friends, colleagues, and families. Get together with your best buddies, spend more time with your family, and learn more things or offer help to your colleagues at work. You would be happy to learn that you have stayed productive through this waiting period when all of this is over and the future becomes clearer. To those who apply to universities in places away from your current domicile, this may also be the last few months you have to spend with your closest friends and family before you embark on the next phase of your life in a new place. Keep that in mind and use your time wisely.
So, there you go. These are few practical things you can do to fill your time waiting for the college application results. Some items and actions shared above are geared towards keeping you busy, active, and productive in those few months of the waiting period. Some applicants put a tremendous amount of effort, time, money, and energy into their future college plan and it is understandable that these few months of waiting can drive them crazy. While you may be tempted to regularly check some crowd-sourced sites where users publish or share their college application results (e.g. to which university, which department, their GPA, GRE scores, etc), remind yourself that you shouldn’t become obsessed with it and let it slow down your daily activities. Life goes on and you should stay focused on your current job/activities, and make sure you can still perform your best during the waiting period.
For more information about student life, universities, and college applications, websites such as College Confidential and Indonesia Mengglobal (IM) offer a bunch of useful resources. If you are looking for an education consultancy company that will guide you with everything related to college applications (e.g. resume, cover letter, interview preparation, etc), college life, job search, and embarking on an international studies (e.g. US, Europe, Asia, etc), I would recommend All-inedu. All-inedu consultants graduated from global universities and the Jakarta-based company has footprints all over the globe.