Waiting for Acceptance

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By Francesca Delbanco

If, as senior year rolls along, you find yourself downing
Pepto-Bismol regularly and having recurring nightmares about
personal statement essays, don't be surprised. Applying to
college is a crash course in anxiety management.

It all peaks in the early spring (or around Christmas, if you've
applied for early admission), when private colleges and
universities send out their verdicts. At my school, let's just
say that period made final-exam week feel like a vacation. We
developed an alarming amount of reverence for the mailman and
stood in all-day lines at pay phones -- calling home to check
whether there was any news. Some parents would even show up
in the middle of class with envelopes for their kids to open in
front of an audience of peers.



It got pretty ugly. Some days it seemed as if there were a
contagious disease going around, with symptoms like uncool-logo
sweatshirt wearing and strategically placed college bumper
stickers on the family car. It didn't exactly help when the
administration put up a bulletin board for students to post their
acceptances. Instead of being happy for our friends who did
well, good news would just inspire more jealousy: "Of course she
got into Stanford, she's a double legacy," or "Wonder if tennis
had anything to do with that acceptance." I must admit that
even I wasn't immune. Back in the fall, I had written a glowing
peer recommendation for my best friend's application to
Williams. But as spring wore on, I felt weird about my
superlative generosity: Why had I spent so much energy
improving her chances of getting into a prestigious school? When
she finally got in, my brush with the dark side ended -- I felt
thrilled and proud that I'd helped.

Should you start hyperventilating come April, try to remember
that your future is under your control -- even while you're
waiting to find out where you got in. You still decide where you
want to go, you decide how to spend your time there and you
decide whether you like it enough to stay. The colleges might
make a few decisions for you, but in the grand scheme of things
you're the Boss Lady. And as hard as that may be to remember
as you lunge for the postman's bag, it's the golden rule of
senior-spring survival.

(This article originally appeared in the November 1997 issue of Seventeen.)

Copyright 1997 K-III Magazine Corporation. All rights reserved.

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