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What to Do While You Wait for College Decisions

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    With college applications out of the way, students may feel at a loss about what to do next. This is partly why waiting for acceptance letters from colleges can feel so overwhelming. The best thing to do while you wait for acceptance letters and rejection letters from colleges is to keep busy and use your time productively. 

    In this article, we will discuss 7 ways to stay productive during this time. We will also answer questions such as: When do colleges start sending acceptance letters? And do colleges send acceptance letters all at once?

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    Email etiquette for students: When do college decisions come out?

    college decisions So, let’s start with a basic question: When do colleges send out acceptance letters? The answer varies depending on whether you applied through Early Action/Early Decision or through Regular Decision

    For Early Decision and Early Action applicants, you can expect to hear back sometime in mid-December through January. For Regular Decision applicants, you can expect to hear back in March or the first week of April. If you applied to an Ivy League college, all applicants will hear back on the same day. This day is referred to as “Ivy Day.” The actual day varies a bit year to year, but for 2024, Ivy Day is expected to fall on March 28th.  

    Waitlisted students may have to wait until the summer before you receive a final decision. If you find yourself in this situation, check out our article, What You Should Do If You’ve Been Waitlisted.  

    So, let’s start with a basic question: When do colleges send out acceptance letters? The answer varies depending on whether you applied through Early Action/Early Decision or through Regular Decision

    For Early Decision and Early Action applicants, you can expect to hear back sometime in mid-December through January. For Regular Decision applicants, you can expect to hear back in March or the first week of April. If you applied to an Ivy League college, all applicants will hear back on the same day. This day is referred to as “Ivy Day.” The actual day varies a bit year to year, but for 2024, Ivy Day is expected to fall on March 28th.  

    Waitlisted students may have to wait until the summer before you receive a final decision. If you find yourself in this situation, check out our article, What You Should Do If You’ve Been Waitlisted.  

    college decisions

    7 Things to do while you wait for college decisions

    Rather than fixate on questions like “when are acceptance letters sent out?” and “how long do acceptance letters take?” do your best to stay productive during this waiting period. If you’re at a loss about how to best spend your time, take a look at our seven suggestions listed below.

    01

    Avoid senioritis

    Now that you’ve submitted your college applications, you may be tempted to slack off a bit. This is why learning How to Control Your Senioritis Symptoms is so important. Keep in mind that colleges do look at your final grades and a drop in your grades, or extracurricular involvement, can have negative consequences. So do your best to find ways to stay engaged, both inside and outside of the classroom.

    senioritis
    02

    Apply for scholarships

    Now is the perfect time to start researching and applying to scholarships. Attending college is a huge financial commitment, and most likely, you will need all of the help you can get! Many scholarships require an essay as part of your application. For more information on how to approach scholarship essays, check out our article, How to Write an Essay for Scholarships.  

    03

    Visit college campuses

    Visiting college campuses can be invaluable to your decision-making process. Getting a feel for the campus and its surrounding area can help you determine if a school is the right fit for you, both academically and socially. While virtual tours have their own benefits, nothing beats visiting a school in person. Check out our college campus tour checklist to help you make the most out of your visit!

    04

    Talk to current students at each college

    By talking openly with students about their college experiences, you can get a more authentic feel for campus culture, academics, social life, and more. Current students can speak candidly about everything from their favorite classes and professors to the residence halls, extracurricular activities, and surrounding community. Ultimately, these perspectives help ensure that you find the best college fit.

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    05

    Start thinking about your college major

    Choosing a college major can feel overwhelming. The key is to think about your interests, skills, and career goals. Start by reflecting on subjects you’ve enjoyed in high school. As you explore potential college majors, consider both your passion for the subject and its career prospects. Choosing a major that aligns with your natural talents and interests will help ensure that you thrive in college and beyond. Keep in mind, you don’t need to choose a college major right away. In fact, many students don’t formally declare a college major until their sophomore year of college. That being said, the sooner you start exploring your options, the more prepared you’ll feel when it is time to declare your college major. 

    06

    Seek out job shadowing opportunities

    Job shadowing is an excellent way to use your time, especially during the summer before your freshman year of college. By observing professionals at work, you can ask plenty of questions while trying to envision yourself within a similar role in the future. Better understanding day-to-day responsibilities, challenges, and rewards can help determine if a career is the right fit for you. This can be especially helpful as you choose your college major.   

    In addition to providing you with valuable real-life experiences, job shadowing builds connections for recommendations and future networking. By showing maturity and interest, you’ll make a positive impression. Overall, engaging in job shadowing opportunities will boost confidence while giving you a better sense of direction when choosing majors and careers. 

    07

    Look for a summer job or internship

    Summer breaks provide a valuable opportunity to gain work experience in your prospective field. So do yourself a favor and start researching summer jobs and internships sooner rather than later! Pursuing an internship or summer job is a great way to spend your summers in high school. A summer job or internship can help you build your resume, develop new skills, and get a taste of potential careers. It takes time and effort to find meaningful summer employment, so take some time now to start looking into potential summer jobs or high school internships

    Key takeaways and moving forward

    college decisions Waiting for acceptance letters and rejection letters from colleges can feel stressful. Especially if you aren’t sure what college admissions timelines look like and find yourself asking questions like: When do acceptance letters come out? Do colleges still send acceptance letters in the mail? And when do colleges send acceptance letters for early action? 

    After gaining a better understanding of admissions timelines, the best way to manage college application stress is to keep busy! Whether you’re focused on applying to scholarships, researching summer jobs, or reaching out to current college students about what they like and dislike about campus, there are lots of productive ways to use your time while you wait for college decisions. The most important thing is to keep up your forward momentum! 

    In the meantime, if you have other questions about college admission, check out some more of our blog posts, such as: Four Steps to Making Your Final College Decision and Statement From Our CEO Regarding the SCOTUS Affirmative Action Decision

    Waiting for acceptance letters and rejection letters from colleges can feel stressful. Especially if you aren’t sure what college admissions timelines look like and find yourself asking questions like: When do acceptance letters come out? Do colleges still send acceptance letters in the mail? And when do colleges send acceptance letters for early action? 

    After gaining a better understanding of admissions timelines, the best way to manage college application stress is to keep busy! Whether you’re focused on applying to scholarships, researching summer jobs, or reaching out to current college students about what they like and dislike about campus, there are lots of productive ways to use your time while you wait for college decisions. The most important thing is to keep up your forward momentum! 

    In the meantime, if you have other questions about college admission, check out some more of our blog posts, such as: Four Steps to Making Your Final College Decision and Statement From Our CEO Regarding the SCOTUS Affirmative Action Decision

    college decisions

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