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How to Handle the Holidays as a High School Senior

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Chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, snowflakes are staying on your nose and eyelashes, and Santa Claus is comin’ to town. It’s also an incredibly stressful time for college applicants waiting on important announcements from their dream schools. If you are finding yourself in this anxiety-ridden boat this winter, don’t worry. Grab an oar and read on for tips on how to keep your cool this holiday season.     

Don’t let inquisitive family members drive you crazy.

Your aunts and uncles are pestering you about where you want to go to school, what major you’re going to declare, and what job you want when you get out. Aaaand you don’t have any answers. Whether these questions are coming from a competitive cousin, a nosy neighbor, or a well-intentioned grandparent, you can save yourself from a mid-meal panic attack by having a few planned responses up your sleeve. Phrases like, “Thank you for asking, I actually haven’t made any decisions yet,” will politely put the kibosh on the third degree. (And if you mix in a few outdated idioms you’ll really throw them off.) Take it a step further with a redirect: “What were your favorite parts about college?” or “Have you thought about joining the debate team?” Turning the question around on them will help you to avoid the panic of follow up questions. Besides, everyone loves to talk about themselves and you might even get some valuable advice along the way!

Already knowing what you want to say will help you keep your cool through dessert. But remember, even though the questions might stress you out, many of the people you see this holiday season probably do have your best interest at heart. So you can also answer questions by saying, “I’m a little overwhelmed by the whole process and haven’t come to any conclusions yet.” As someone wise once said, honesty is the best policy.

Stay on top of deadlines.

Wait was Duke’s deadline the 1st or the 2nd? Or was it the 5th? Keeping track of deadlines is extremely important this time of year. The difference of an hour could meet applying to your dream school on time and missing the deadline entirely. While some schools stick to January 1, others will give you a few extra days or even weeks. Visiting our Regular Decision Deadline Organizer will help you to prioritize the tasks at hand.

Make sure all of the colleges on your list are there for a reason.

The college admissions process can be very time-intensive for students. Thus, there is no reason you should spend any time on schools that you’re not truly interested in attending. Nevermind the application fee, crafting a supplemental essay is a time suck that you should avoid if you’re not serious about the institution. So revisit your college list and make sure that there aren’t any schools that don’t need to be there. To be clear: This isn’t an opportunity to pare your list down to just the Ivies, and it certainly isn’t an excuse to cut a school simply because you don’t feel like writing the essay. Instead, make sure your list is balanced so that all the effort you put into your essays feels worth it in the end.

Manage your time wisely.

You don’t want to miss out on opening presents or taking part in treasured holiday traditions because you didn’t manage your time well enough to get your applications finished, right?! You can increase your efficiency by looking for overlap in your supplemental essay prompts and strategically reusing some of your best essays (with the correct school names swapped in, of course!). And that’s the best trick in our book. The rest is a combination of elbow grease and reclaiming your time. Block off non-negotiable slots on your schedule to work on your college essays before and after family time. If you stick to your schedule (and maybe ask a trusted parent or essay advisor to keep you accountable), you’ll be able to truly relax around family and friends. And who knows, maybe you’ll even enjoy answering a few of those pesky questions.

In a few short weeks, you will be finished with freshman college admissions and able to sit down and relax. When the only thing left to do is wait to hear back, you will hear bells a-ringing, trust us.

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