Oberlin Blogs

Your Guide to De-Stressing While Waiting for Early Decision Results

December 4, 2018

Emma McIlhagga ’22

A screenshot of my acceptance letter to Oberlin, with the Oberlin College and Conservatory label at the top, followed by the text, 'Dear Emma, Congratulations! I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to Oberlin College's Class of 2022.'
A screenshot I took of my acceptance letter a few moments after I got it in December of 2017.

Last fall, I chose to apply Early Decision 1 to Oberlin. It took me a while to come to the conclusion that I wanted to apply Early Decision—me being a very indecisive person, the idea of committing like that freaked me out, but after much deliberation, I found it was the best choice for me.

Flash forward to a month and a half later, when while my friends were trying to finish their applications, I was anxiously awaiting my decision, as I know many of you early deciders are as well.

Here is my list of advice for these two weeks while you are waiting for the decision to come. I know it won’t take away all of the nerves, but I am going to do my best to at least help you and give you advice that I would have loved to hear when I was waiting for my decision.

Note: This post is in no way intended to throw shade at those who decided to wait and apply regular decision; your choice is no less valid! I just want to make sure my Early Decision 1 babes have some advice for these next couple of weeks.

1. Pat yourself on the back!
You applied early decision—committing like that is extremely brave. You may have had some advice, but ultimately you were the one who made the decision to take ownership of your future in this way. Yay you!

2. Focus on taking deep breaths. In for three, hold for three, out for three.
Center yourself and focus on calming thoughts. Try meditation! Meditation was really helpful to me while waiting for college decisions. It forces you to take a breather in the middle of what can sometimes feel like chaos. I used the app Headspace, and I (tried to) use it twice a day: once in the morning when I woke up, and once before I went to bed. That way, I started and ended the day centered with a little more peace of mind.

3. Have you set up your Applicant Portal yet? This is an important step!
You’ll have gotten an email from Admissions with instructions for how to set it up. If you have Gmail, make sure you check your Promotions tab if you have filters turned on; sometimes emails from Oberlin get filtered into there! (Another good thing to do while you’re at it is to mark all emails from Oberlin as important so they show up at the top of your emails.) Little side note, I myself had no idea there was an application portal, and there was a snowstorm the week of decisions, so our mail was delayed - it wasn’t until three days after December 15, when my letter still hadn’t come, before my friend made me realize there was something online. So don’t be like me, set up your application portal now so you can find out quick!

4. Something that I worked on (and am still working on) is taking charge of the space that I put myself in.
Unless you thrive off of stress, you probably don’t really want to be in spaces talking about college right now. It’s important to get your mind to focus on something else. While that can be hard, especially in your last year of high school when almost everything is about college, try to notice when you are in a space that is particularly high stress. If you’re in a space where you can decide whether you are there or not, maybe consider removing yourself from that space, or trying to change the subject. It’s not healthy to force yourself to be in a space that you don’t have to be in, or a space that doesn’t have to be the way it is.

5. Now that you’ve removed yourself from this space, figure out something to do!
Shop for gifts for the holidays for your family and friends (or treat yo self because you deserve it after all this stress). I personally love these vine stickers for anything from laptops to water bottles (not sponsored, I just love these stickers). Go outside, disconnect from devices and just enjoy Mother Nature and all she has to offer. Curl up with some popcorn and a good ol’ 90s romcom. Anything that can get your mind off of Oberlin. 

6. Remember to look for help when you need it.
There are a ton of resources out there if you are feeling particularly anxious or stressed about Oberlin, or about anything in life. I love the app Wysa, where you can talk to a bot created by therapists and psychologists to help you work through any feelings you've been having; there's everything from processing your feelings to guided breathing to figuring out what steps to take next. Also make a list of people you can trust, whether that's a family member, a friend, a teacher, a coach, or any other person you feel you can talk to. Let them know how you're feeling; even if you don't want to talk to a person right now, having someone be aware of how you're feeling can help just so you don't feel like you're shouldering the burden all on your own. 

7. Remember that you’ve done all you can, and the decision is out of your hands now.
You worked your butt off on your application: all that seemingly pointless info, all those references, all those writing supplements; and now, think of it like your application has moved on to a better place (or at least the Oberlin admissions office...). Now that it's out of your hands, try not to focus on things you can't change or things you can't control. This was really hard for me to do, and still is, but as long as you've talked to people like Step 6 suggests, you'll be able to have people you can turn to to help take your focus off of the application. 

8. And last but not least, we’re going to take one more big deep breath. In for three, hold for three, out for three. 

Remember that whatever outcome your application has is in no way a reflection of who you are as a person. It doesn’t say anything about any of your hard work, it doesn't speak to your perseverance and your endurance, it doesn't change any of the hard work you’ve done to get to this point. 

In the end, I believe that whatever is meant to happen will happen. It might happen like you imagine it, or it might not.

But whatever happens, remember to take some deep breaths and relax. You've got this. 

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