After months of preparation, your teen has finished all of their college applications and pressed the “send” button. Being done with the application process, and all the work it entails, entitles teens to breathe a sigh of relief. Now that their applications are in the hands of the college admissions offices, there is nothing more they can do but wait.
Or is there? What should teens be doing (or not doing) while they wait to hear back from colleges?
The best advice for teens is to stay calm. Lisa Sohmer, Director of College Counseling for the Garden School, says, “Although it is hard not to worry, there is nothing teens can do. They can’t speed up time or change anything on the application.”
Instead of thinking about the future, try to focus on the present. Senior year is such a fun time and there are so many special events for seniors such as prom, senior cut day, and graduation. Enjoy these once in a lifetime moments with high school friends. Christine K. VanDeVelde, college speaker and coauthor of the book College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, adds, “For many teens, this is also the last time they are going to live at home full time. Embrace this time with your family.”
It is important for teens to keep up their academic momentum throughout senior year. Colleges request and look at final transcripts. Says Sohmer, “Seniors do have a tendency to slack off on their studies - that is why there are names for it like senioritis or senior slump.” Remember, all acceptances are conditional so don’t drop out of all extracurricular activities or let grades slip.
Teens who have been rejected or waitlisted from their top schools may find it especially difficult to stay motivated. But remember, students do come off the waitlist. If this happens, teens want to make sure that their end of year grades are consistent with what they have achieved throughout their high school years.
Sohmer explains, “Their learning is not over. They are going to need their good study habits as they head into college in September.” Adds VanDeVelde, “Seniors should be good role models for the under classmen. Being a positive influence on other students carries a lot of weight with teachers.”
Be Careful on Social Media
Teens need to be very careful about their social media presence, especially while colleges are evaluating their applications. While colleges are not hunting down prospective students on social media, they are themselves on many social media sites. Sohmer says, “The director of admissions probably has a Twitter feed and gets alerts anytime their school is mentioned. Be smart about tweets and posts – don’t put anything negative in writing.”
Being careful on social media is especially important for teens looking for scholarships, financial aid, or athletic spots. VanDeVelde says, “Colleges are looking for students with good character who will be a good representative for their brand.”
Enjoy the Festivities of Senior Year Responsibly
During the spring semester of senior year there are many celebrations – but don’t party too hard. Stephen Gray Wallace, president of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) says, “One of the students where I teach got into his dream school Early Decision. In the spring of his senior year he went to a party where alcohol was served and many of the attendants, including him, were arrested. His high school was obligated to report the arrest to the college, which in turn rescinded their offer. The student was devastated.”
Every year teen tragedies occur around prom and graduation due to unsafe behaviors such as drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs. Parents may become lax on their rules, arguing that the teen is almost out of the house anyway and wanting them to just enjoy their senior year.
Says Wallace, “The spring of senior year is, and should be, a time of reflection and anticipation – of looking back while preparing to move forward. Parents play a vital role in keeping teens safe and alive during this particularly dangerous stretch of time. Helping teens to celebrate the season safely will ultimately get them to where they are about to go.”