11 Things Students Can Do While Waiting for College Admission Decisions

Waiting for admission decisions can be stressful. Here are 11 motivational ideas for how to spend your time that will help you get ready for college.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published on February 14, 2022 · Updated on February 24, 2022

Edited by Hannah Muniz
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11 Things Students Can Do While Waiting for College Admission Decisions


You've filled out your applications and hit the submit button. As you wait for admission decisions, it can feel like your entire future hangs in the balance. What should you do while waiting for those acceptance letters?

It might feel tempting to put the admissions office on speed dial and check your application status daily. Or, at the other end of the extreme, you might want to swear off school completely.

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Ready to start your journey?

Here are some practical and even enjoyable things to do while waiting for admission decisions.

1. Check With the Admissions Office, Just Once

It's a good idea to make sure the admissions office received your completed application, your financial aid paperwork, and your letters of recommendation. But just do it once — and do it online, if possible.

Avoid going overboard. Pestering the admissions staff will only annoy them and certainly won't help your chances of getting an acceptance letter.

2. Keep Up Your Grades

You might feel tempted to drop your study schedule and phone in a few assignments once you submit those college applications. But stay focused on school.

Finishing senior year strong will give you a sense of accomplishment. More importantly, though, colleges can withdraw their offer of admission or revise your financial aid offer if your grades slip, even in your final semester.

3. Pick Up a Hobby

Devote some of that nervous energy toward a new hobby. Knitting, snowshoeing or hiking, baking bread, and learning a new language are all great ways to fill your time.

In particular, think about hobbies that will make you feel connected to home when you head off to college. Ask your parent or guardian to share their favorite hobby with you. Or check out unique hobbies related to your hometown.

You'll head to college more grounded and well-rounded with a new hobby.

4. File the FAFSA

You've probably heard the advice to file the FAFSA as soon as possible after the application opens on October 1. But in case you haven't done it, set aside some time to fill out and submit the FAFSA.

Why should you file it? Students can qualify for federal grants, federal work-study, and loans with the FAFSA. Even if you aren't planning to take out loans and don't qualify for need-based grants, you should still file this form.

Colleges also make institutional aid decisions based on the FAFSA, as do some scholarship providers.

Set aside some time to gather your financial documents and fill out the FAFSA. The federal student aid office says it should take most students less than an hour to complete the form.

5. Schedule a Break From School

Years of the school grind, from extracurriculars to AP classes, can leave you feeling drained. So schedule a break from school before you decide on a college to attend.

That doesn't mean skipping class. Instead, plan a trip for spring break or consider a staycation in your hometown. Think about a summer road trip before college or an international escape.

Even something like volunteering or community service can help give you a break from school.

6. Find Scholarships

You don't know where you're headed for college, but you're planning to go somewhere. So start looking for college scholarships.

Many scholarships offer deadlines year-round, so there's always an opportunity out there. You can look for scholarships for high school seniors or scholarships based on career goals.

Smaller scholarships, especially ones for particular cities or high schools, sometimes go unclaimed. Set up an appointment with your high school guidance counselor to learn more about scholarship opportunities.

7. Go for a Walk

Did you know walking is great for your mental health? A quick walk can reduce stress and leave you feeling more relaxed and alert. And the mood-boosting effects of walking are even greater if you walk with friends.

Applying to college can be stressful in many ways. Leaving home for college can sometimes mean saying goodbye to your loved ones. Setting aside time to walk with your family and friends is a great way to destress and connect with people you care about.

8. Look for Summer Jobs

Summer might feel a long way off, but it's a good idea to start thinking about summer jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, and other ways to spend your summer before college.

And you don't need to limit your search to local jobs. Consider remote jobs or flexible freelancing roles. A summer job can be a great way to save money for college, learn more about an industry, and make connections.

Alternatively, consider enrolling in an online class through a community college. Make sure the credits transfer and cross off some general education requirements even before you start college.

9. Take Up Meditation

College can be stressful. In fact, 80% of college students have high stress levels. And many first-year students have the added pressure of homesickness. While waiting for admission decisions, consider building up your mental health toolkit.

Meditation, yoga, and exercise are all proven ways to handle stress. So are a good night's sleep and journaling. Practicing healthy ways of managing stress before going to college can set you up for success.

10. Stave Off Senioritis

Senioritis is like a siren song for second-semester seniors. Is it even possible to avoid senioritis?

You can stave off senioritis in a few ways. First, set clear goals for your last months in high school. If you're feeling burned out, don't take on big projects. Instead, stay focused on wrapping up your graduation requirements.

And make time for fun, even while keeping your focus on school.

11. Spend Time With Friends and Family

Once your applications are in, you might start dreaming about college. Meeting new people, exploring campus, and imagining the future can consume a lot of your mental energy. But make time for the people you'll see less once you head off to college: your friends and family.

Schedule some quality time with your siblings and parents/guardians. Plan a night out with your friends. And lean on your support network when you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed about college.


Feature Image: Karan Kapoor / The Image Bank / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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