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Clock in Andover Hall. Photo by Katelynn Carver

Congrats! You have successfully completed your application! So, what’s next? There is no easy solution to avoiding anxiety around waiting to hear, but perhaps I can offer a sliver of advice to avoid over-thinking if you included that one summer internship, or if you spell-checked your essay enough, so on and so on. I’ve been there! 

Tip #1 – this is crucial: DO NOT convince yourself you are not good enough for Harvard. Ask yourself this: self, would you apply to a school you were not qualified to attend? Self, do you have the required GPA, did you gather letters of recommendation from educators, mentors and employers that you know best? And, self, did you take the GRE, and lastly: did you write the strongest statement of purpose you were able to draft? I will venture a guess and answer yes for you.

Tip #2: Stay busy, the “dreaded” wait does not have to be so dreadful. Here’s why. If you’re still in undergrad, I’m sure you have enough work and extra-curricular activities to keep you occupied. If you are a working professional, again, I am sure you have work, and perhaps families, volunteer commitments, or other interests to keep you occupied. Whatever you’re doing, I will venture another guess that you were an interesting person before you applied, so continue to be amazing and stay busy!

Tip #3: This one is a doozy. Keep muzzles on friends and family. What I mean is, remind your loved-ones that it will take time for you to hear back from schools. And, while you know they are cheering you on, forgetting about your application and staying busy is what you need to avoid anxiety.

I was still in undergrad while waiting to hear. I alerted everyone around me not to bring up grad school until I broached the subject. This may seem severe to some, but the last thing you want to do, after you’ve submitted your application, is stress out about “getting in.” I went to a quarter system school, so I graduated in Winter and had to figure out what to do with myself in February and March besides “waiting to hear.” To keep my mind off it, I threw myself into work and hung out with my dog and friends, all while soaking up Los Angeles’ beautiful outdoor nature.

Last few tips: Do not check your email hoping or dreading you got a letter well before the decision date; a letter will not magically appear. Remember, you did all the hard work, you got the grades, took the GRE, got strong letters of recommendation, plus highlighted your creative and intellectual strengths. Do not let Harvard’s designer label drive you crazy during the waiting process. You were amazing when you applied and you will continue to be amazing while you wait and after the decision, whatever it is.

Smile. It helps.

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