I like to refer to April as the 2nd Christmas. While anxiety of waiting for decisions precedes the month, more than anxiousness for Christmas, nevertheless, it is a month of gifts. The tables have suddenly turned and those schools that you wanted so much now want you! And just like those days of our youth on Christmas (or you pick the holiday that is more appropriate to you), you don’t want to focus on only one gift that you got; play with them all for sometime. You have a month to decide! You worked so hard to get to this point, now enjoy the limelight and return to the research that you did on each school. If you did your homework well earlier, you would have pick several good fit schools. Now is the time to focus on the BEST FIT.
Avoid this common pitfall:
Many students immediately assume that they should go to the college that was hardest to get into. Subconsciously, they always had in their minds some kind of hierarchy listing of the schools they applied to. I counsel my students to be sure to have a range of schools (commonly referred to as Dream, Target and Safe, though I personally always hated the name “safe” as it seems to denote that it was in someway a “lesser” school), but then to shuffle them up and think of all of them as 1st choices. When I have my family meetings in this month, I will ask the student to really think whether they want to be in a school where the work load and student body might be a bit overwhelming. Challenge is good, but if you feel that you are a weaker student, you may either be unhappy or abandon your goals for an easier path. I would again recommend watching this Malcolm Gladwell speech that I posted in an earlier blog: http://bit.ly/1qqcVre
Return to you Research:
You would have done significant research for your “Why Us” essay for the application, but now is the time to go back and research again. Once you know that it is a possibility, you will look with totally new eyes! Plus, now you are looking at different things. You wanted to point out all of the resources that you would take advantage of and that linked to who you are when you were writing those essays. But now that you know that they want you, turn your focus deeper towards the areas that would make life richer on that campus. Look into dorms, social life, opportunities to continue in areas of your interest, how easy is it to get in and out of the university? Remember, you will be doing that at least four times a year! Join Facebook groups of admitted students and see if you can talk to students who are there now.
Beware of the Marketing!:
American universities are especially good at their marketing! The amount of glossy picture filled love letters you receive now is astonishing. They play on the fact that you wanted to be there so bad a few months ago, and now they will shower love on you. Enjoy it, but know that it is just marketing, and you need to do your work to determine your best fit. Another common mistake is to choose schools that have more name recognition. Please trust me that all of that will mean absolutely nothing once you join the college.
Decided? Change your mind!
If you are leaning to a particular school and feel pretty sure that is the one that you want then turn your back on it for a couple days and throw your love at other ones. Try to really talk yourself into one of the others as you scour their sites for reasons why they might be better. Pretend that you did not even get into the one that you are leaning towards, and that you have to choose one of the others. If you return to the first one and still feel it is the best choice, then you will have done your due diligence and be more sure of yourself.
Never Look Back!
When you finally do make the choice, embrace it entirely. Start connecting with the school and the students in your incoming class. See what is going on right now on campus. Start thinking about clubs and organizations that you would like to join. Check our www.ratemyprofessor.com to note professors you want, or don’t want. Pick your classes and communicate with your future roommate. All of this will make sure that you hit the ground running!
While all of this 2nd Christmas is terribly fun, don’t let the dreaded and contagious “senioritis” strike you. UK admissions are conditional and US admissions do expect you to show them the same level of excellence that they saw in your application. So keep the foot on the accelerator for the remaining months until your exams are over!