During a recent meeting with a senior, X dramatically declared that waiting for admission decisions is the worst part of the whole experience. I laughed and reminded her that (like childbirth) time must have erased her memory of essay writing—she wrote 25 essays. At the time, she stated that essay writing was the most grinding part of applying to colleges. Since I edited the essays, I wholeheartedly agreed.
This time of year is always difficult for seniors waiting for decisions (often from some of the most selective colleges). Senioritis, and the mind-numbing effects of a year of Zoom meetings, have made the wait even more painful. Most colleges will release final decisions by the first week of April. The Ivies famously release their decisions on the same day, known as Ivy Day—this year it's April 6th. College and school counselors around the country have the date circled on their calendar in anticipation of celebrating and soothing students. Harvard even tells students to expect a decision at 7 PM while casually mentioning they received 57K applications this year while carefully omitting the size of their freshman class (1650 in 2020).
While talking to X, I reminded her of all of the acceptances she had already received–including schools that have offered significant merit scholarships! I also encouraged her to spend time engaging with these schools. Admitting a student isn’t the end of the recruiting process for colleges. As a former Assistant Director at the University of Michigan, I spent weeks every spring organizing receptions for admitted students and coordinating travel for faculty and staff to numerous cities inan attempt to bring the campus to students.
Colleges are still engaging with admitted students this year. While in-person visits may not be possible, colleges are getting creative in their continued efforts to recruit admitted students by holding admitted student receptions online, encouraging students to join their freshman class on social media, and connecting admits with current students and faculty.
Each year I have a number of parents who share that this part of the experience can feel helpless as the decision is out of their child’s hands. Students have submitted their carefully-crafted essays, shined in their alumni interviews, demonstrated interest to universities, and in some cases, written additional essays to let the schools know (yet again!) that they still remain interested in attending.
So, what’s left for parents to do? A few years back, I worked with a family that thrived during this time. They celebrated every admission offer. Each time an email was received exclaiming “We are pleased to inform you...”, Mom baked a cake and topped it with icing dyed with the school’s colors. At the end of the experience, Mom presented her daughter with a pair of pajama pants with patches sewed on of the logo of each university where she had been admitted.
I don’t expect every parent to go to these extremes. If you’re like me, you can barely thread a needle and the oven is a repository for your still-shiny baking sheets. But wouldn’t it be great to celebrate each admission decision, each acknowledgment of your child’s four years of hard work? Instead of spending the next few weeks worrying, wouldn’t it be better spent eating cake at an admitted student reception for a college the student was excited about applying to back in the fall?
Enjoy your cake and save a piece for me—preferably chocolate.