It feels like applying to college is an all-consuming, never-ending task. So why does it feel like you’re mostly just… waiting? Here are some of the worst of the application doldrums, and what you can do about them.

Waiting for Test Scores

The only thing more stressful than taking a standardized test is waiting for the results.  But once you’ve got the results, you have to decide whether you should take the test again.

Tip: If there’s a chance you might retake the test, keep studying for it! Keep your knowledge fresh, and if your scores aren’t where you want them the first time, you’ll be ready to take it again.

Waiting for Transcripts

You’ve never wanted the end of the term to come faster than you do now. You can’t apply without a transcript!

Tip: Keep your grades up, of course! But fill up your credentials in other ways in the meantime. Take charge in extracurriculars and volunteer activities to really prove your character.

Waiting for Early Action/Decision Responses

After going through all the steps of applying, this is your first big chance to hear back. It’s earlier than regular decision, but the time between sending off your application to the time you hear back can feel like an eternity.

Tip: Hope for the best but prepare for having to apply somewhere else. After a little time, revisit your essays to see them with fresh eyes. You might be using them again soon.

Waiting for Regular Admission Responses

Now the heat is on. It can feel like there’s an incredible amount of pressure to get in, but all you can do at this point is wait, wait, wait.  Checking and re-checking the mailbox each day doesn’t bring that acceptance packet any sooner.

Tip: Hopefully by now your backup plans are a sure bet, so you won’t have to panic no matter what happens. Don’t wait until you hear back from your first choice schools - make your plans now!

Waiting for Scholarships and Financial Aid

Getting in is one thing.  Paying for it is another. Going to college has never been more expensive than it is now. Scholarships and financial aid will be a HUGE part of your ability to pay. You did everything you were supposed to do, but what if the funds don’t come through?

Tip: If you’re worried about cost, there’s another way to spend way less on a four-year degree.  American Honors students spend two years at a community college in intensely academic classes, and then use the American Honors transfer network to transfer to their first choice school. Same degree, but it costs way less. (Find out if there’s an American Honors college near you.)

Waiting for Classes to Start!

You’ve always looked forward to starting classes, but never like this!  A whole new world is sitting there, just waiting for you.  Classes can’t start soon enough.

Tip: Have some fun, you've earned it! Go out and brag to your friends and family about the big new adventure you're about to go on. What you've done is awesome!

Media credits:

Authored by Jared Meyer

Jared specializes in communication in higher education. He writes about getting into college and succeeding once you're there. He's the editor of the American Honors Blog.