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4 Tips To Help You Prepare for Admission Decisions

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

When decision day is just around the corner, the weeks leading up to it can be stressful as you worry about what colleges are going to accept you.

The time between submitting applications and awaiting admissions decisions can feel like there is nothing to do but wait around and worry.

However, there are still some things you should do to make the process as smooth and painless as possible. 

Finalize financial aid applications.

Applying for financial aid is easily one of the most important and confusing parts of submitting a college application.

There’s the niche terminology, a wide variety of different documents to include and the weight of knowing it’s got to be done correctly.

First, there is filling out the FAFSA, which can give you federal or state aid. Then, there is also the CSS Profile for certain universities. And some schools require even more school-specific documents to apply for aid or clarify some points made on other documents. That ends up being a long list of different aid applications! 

Confusing, messy, frustrating? Yep.

So it’s a good idea to look through your applicant portals to ensure you’ve submitted all the necessary materials to every one of your potential universities.

That way, you avoid scrambling at the last minute to get things together, which can lead to mistakes and even missed funding that you may have gotten had you submitted everything properly and on time.

Pay attention to your email too. You may be notified if a college is requiring extra documentation even after you thought you were finished.

Reconsider your personal school rankings. 

While you wait, your thoughts on what is important for you to have at a university may change as more information becomes available or you find new interests.

That is totally OK!

Months have passed since you first applied, and nobody is expected to stay the same person that they were. You may have reason to want to stay closer to home, or maybe you have found a new hobby that you would like to explore more. Or, perhaps you have never taken the time to sit down and think about which universities you truly prefer.

This is a great time to consider different aspects of each school and do a bit of research to decide—should you be accepted to all of them—which you’re the most likely to attend.

Consider all of it: financial aid, school spirit, available extracurriculars, social scene, travel abroad options, curriculum style, campus location, and academic programs.

Which of these things is most important to you? Which is least important? How do the things in between stack up?

Then, think about the colleges you have applied to. Which of these best matches your preferences?

There’s probably not perfect option. Regardless, you can get an idea of which schools are the strongest contenders if all goes well with your applications. If you know someone who currently goes to or graduated from one of your top colleges, ask them about their experience to know even more.

If you can’t get it totally figured out right now, that’s  also perfectly fine!

I didn’t have my schools ranked before getting my decisions. A lot of the universities I applied to were similar in the ways that were most important to me. I thought that it may be best to see which universities were options before taking the time to make any big decisions.

As decisions rolled in, the amount of financial aid was a leading factor in deciding which school I wanted to attend. While most of them offered similar amounts, they tended to differ by a few thousand each.

In the end, I was fortunate that Princeton both offered me the most aid and led in the other qualities that were most important to me, so I happily accepted their offer of admission. 

You’ve Made Your College Decision. Now What?

Decide how you want to find out and who to share it with.

I hadn’t really thought about it ahead of time, but I wish I had.

After things were all said and done for me, I noticed many people recorded the moment they viewed their admissions decisions for the first time so they can capture the moment forever. I vividly remember the happy moments when I was accepted to several universities, but sometimes I wish I would have thought about recording some of them ahead of time so I could revisit all the details of the pure, exciting moment.

You might want to consider recording your reaction, but note that it can also be awkward if you receive bad news.

Also think about who you want present for your decisions. Since they’re both stressful and important, you may only feel comfortable having close family members beside you. Or, you may want nobody at all to be present. It is totally up to you.

I felt most comfortable in my bedroom alone because I was very nervous.

Then, think about who you’ll share the good news with. I was home with my mom, so I first ran out and told her. I also called my dad and my best friend, and then I told my brothers when they returned home.

Think about the first people you want to tell when you receive good news, and don’t be afraid to tell everyone! Post on social media. Text all your friends.

This is a big, important moment for you. After all your hard work, you deserve the chance to be proud of yourself.

Remember your worth if you get bad news. 

No matter how good of a student you are, or how well you may believe you fit a school, a rejection can happen.

This can be a sad, disappointing feeling. It might make you question if you really are as worthy as you thought.

The most important point I can make here will be this: A rejection does not define you. (Need a shoulder to cry on? Here are some tips on how to cope with a rejection or deferral.)

You may have done everything right—maintained a high GPA, gotten good test scores, interviewed well, worked hard on your supplements—and still find yourself disappointed with a few of the decisions.

This does not mean you’re not as talented as you thought or that you did not deserve a spot at that university.

Colleges receive thousands more qualified applicants than they can hope to accept. Tiny details can make or break an application, and realistically, trying to distinguish between that many stellar individuals can be a task that has no clear-cut solution to admissions officers.

Even if a college would really like to accept you, sometimes it just is not entirely feasible with the resources at their disposal. It does not make you any less of a student, and you should not let bad news make you question if you’re really as smart, talented, and capable as you thought.

You still are.

Be prepared and be patient.

For me, the span of time between submitting my applications and receiving my decisions may have been even more stressful that actually crafting the applications themselves.

If this is true for you too, try to use this time wisely so that you are as prepared as possible when the time for you to receive your big news finally rolls around. Continue to focus on your current work for high school and on maintaining your grades.

Oh, and take a deep breath. You’ve got this.

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Author: Heidi Temple

I am a first-generation student at Princeton University. I am currently planning to concentrate in Molecular Biology there. Then, I plan to go to grad school and eventually pursue a career in medical research.