There’s an old saying that the month of March “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” We take this to mean that March generally starts out as a wintery month but that it ends with spring-like weather. At least that’s what you’re hoping for if you are gazing out your window at snow falling in mid-March.
And if your high school senior is still waiting to hear about college admissions, the saying should be amended to something like this: “March comes in like a lion and that lion lives forever and ever and its growls get louder and louder as it paces back and forth menacingly through your house until you want to scream.”
This endless waiting seems like torture when your child has submitted applications a full five months earlier and it suddenly feels like everyone else you know has already decided where they’ll be attending school in the fall.
The phrase that has by now burned its way into their subconscious – “students will be notified of admission decisions by April 1st” – induces a little more stress as each day of the month unfolds. Online guessing and rumors about decision release days can consume a student and drive parents a little insane as everyone holds their collective breath.
What can you all do to take your minds off the endless waiting game while the interminable minutes of March slowly tick by?
10 Things to Do While Waiting on College Admissions Decisions
1. Do not panic, please. Some kids can work themselves into a frenzy thinking that every slot on their potential campus is already filled. The best dorms are full! All the parking passes have been sold! The early admitted students have already connected online and chosen their roommates! This is never the reality, and if their first choice whatever ends up not being an option, welcome to college life. There’s always a Plan B.
2. Spend time looking for a summer job. If there’s anything that every college freshman wishes they had more of, it’s cash. March is the perfect month to get a jump on applying for summer earning opportunities. The last two months of high school go by in a flash and your child doesn’t want to start a summer job search in late May. Pound the pavement now and fill out online applications for every job that sounds appealing.
3. Get involved in party planning. If you are having a graduation party for your senior, get them working on the details. This is not only a time-saver for parents, it’s a wonderful opportunity for a teen to work with a budget and search for the best deals. Have them go on sites like Pinterest to look at party décor and activities. March weekends are the perfect time for creating photo backdrops and backyard cornhole games.
4. Tackle one new life skill per week. Far too many parents are realizing that once their kid heads off to college, they are lacking in some basic adulting skills. These questions may seem ridiculous for some families, but can your student handle these situations: Addressing and mailing a letter or package? Going to a medical appointment or urgent care by themselves? Can they do laundry without staining or shrinking their favorite articles of clothing? How do you deal with a broken laptop? Get busy, kid.
5. Have some family photos taken. There’s so much emphasis placed on getting senior portraits done, but you may be surprised that once your first child goes off to college, your chance of having everyone together in one spot for a family photo dwindles. The more family members you can gather, especially grandparents and even pets, the happier you will be looking back. This doesn’t have to break the bank either. Find a friend to be your photographer and go to a local park.
6. Shop for dorm stuff. Another surprise is how quickly retail stores sell out of certain dorm must-haves like Twin XL sheets in the color your kid must have or that desk lamp with the USB ports in it. March is the time to create your shopping list and get working on it. Grown and Flown has a wonderfully curated list right here.
7. Talk about college life. Even if your child doesn’t yet know for certain where they will be going, there are issues they will face no matter what school they’ll be attending. Often kids get asked if they are excited about going to college, but rarely does anyone ask them what they might be concerned about. Take the time to discuss issues like getting along with roommates and feeling lonely or overwhelmed their first semester away. Asking questions now will let them know you are open to listening, even if they are not quite ready to fully explore those sometimes-scary feelings.
8. Find a college life “mentor” for your student. Because teens don’t always want to ask certain questions or divulge every fear to their parents, enlist the help of a current college upperclassmen. This could be a cousin, family friend, or child of someone you have a connection with. Help arrange a meeting for the kids to get together and talk about college experiences, even if it’s just a FaceTime connection. The perspective of an older college student can be extremely useful.
9. Cultivate family time. The months of April and May are jam-packed with all those lasts of high school. Kids are super busy with studying for AP tests and finals, preparing for year-end performances and presentations, getting ready for proms and graduation. Make a concerted effort in March to spend as much down time together as you can all stand to. One day very soon you’ll just be wishing you were all in the same room watching a movie or playing a board game.
10. Express your love. The transition from high school to college can be stressful for the entire family, whether it’s the oldest child and everything is new and a bit bewildering, or it’s the last child and an empty nest transition is looming. Hug your kid and let them know how they make you proud as often as you can. Be certain they understand that your love will never waiver, no matter where they attend college.
May your March pass quickly, filled with connection, new opportunities and love. And always remember, it’s not where they go, it’s what they choose to do when they get there.