Whether applying to a school using a set application deadline or applying to a school that practices a rolling admission policy, you will experience a wait or quiet period between submission of your application and the school’s answer to your application for admission.

During the quiet period, the application process slows, but this doesn’t mean that you have nothing to do or think about. There is much to do and consider as part of your preemptive and thoughtful application process.

Focus on Yourself as an Applicant
You will probably not be the strongest applicant in each school’s applicant pool. Recognize this and be prepared to answer questions about your weaknesses and willingness to commit to the demands of your possible choices.

Continue to learn, inform yourself, and become a confident applicant. Revisit our earlier notions of knowing yourself; be prepared to answer difficult questions about yourself. If you’ve experienced some shortcomings or difficulties in school begin to think about how you will talk about them.

How will you challenge yourself and grow in your new school? When schools want to know more, they often want to gain insight into how you want to grow in their environment; admission officers want to see that you recognize challenges and have begun thinking about how you will adapt, grow, and contribute.

Be Prepared for Questions and Information Requests
To gather more information about applicants, schools may ask for a variety of indicators about your applicant qualities. An admission office might ask for interim grades, additional testing or evaluation from an educational consultant (if you are working with one), a letter from your school advisor or counselor or an extra piece of writing.

A school might also ask you to schedule your on-campus interview before they make a decision so that the admission office can meet and speak with you and your parents personally.

Communication is the key to this process. Call or write with any questions that you have or to answer any question that a school’s admission office has of you- promptly and politely.

Keep your communication with admission office clean, to the point and efficient. Admission officers are, by and large more than glad to help you. But, remember that they’re busy reading and evaluating applications.

Schedule Your Interviews
Schedule and plan your school interview if you haven’t already done so. Think about what you want to learn or what information you want to glean when you visit each school. Think beyond information available in a school’s catalog and web site. Are you interested in a particular academic program, a specific athletic program, or an extracurricular? What do you want to know? Think specifically.

Be prepared to discuss how you can and will contribute to each particular school. From the school’s perspective, a school should be stronger after you graduate.

Seek a less formal perspective of your possible schools by visiting with current students from your area while they are home on holidays. Ask them about teachers, student life, classes, weekends, extracurriculars, teachers, food- anything. These are your opportunities to get an informal sense of the school.

Think Preemptively While You Wait
Expect to gain admittance to one or more of the schools to which you’ve applied. This means that you will face a choice about the school that you choose to attend. Refocus on knowing yourself and the kinds of environments in which you work well. Read all of the information that you can about your possible schools- web sites, newspapers, etc. Think about how you will work and contribute with in each school.

Imagine the components of your best fit. Which school provides the ideal structure and tone for your growth and success? Which school(s) lacks something that you need? What will each school demand of you as a student and as a person?

If You Can’t Wait
If you think that you overextended yourself in the application process and might need to rethink your school choices and applications immediately, take a deep breath, relax, and pick up the phone. Call your admission officer and lay it on the table. Ask.

Most schools will tell you what they think your chances are for admission. Remember, the school wants students who are “good fits” for their programs. Initiate the conversation with the admission officer handling your application, but be aware that the answer may not be exactly what you want.

Conclusion
If you continue to plan and don’t allow your mind to idle, you will be prepared for those letters whether they read “accept”, “waitlist” or deny”. You will understand the situations and, most importantly, maintain the perspective necessary to find and place yourself in the best school for you.