How to Handle the Stress of Awaiting College Acceptance Letters

A Crucial Decision

High school seniors experience a lot of stress as they await college acceptance letters. They too often experience pressure from family and friends about where to attend college. As the parent, you must recognize that your teen might be very proactive about informing you that he or she is going to make their own decision about where to attend college. For some teenagers this is the first time they have to make an important decision on their own. They may not agree with the advice they are getting from parents or counselors and have to reach deeply inward to truly think about what they want from the college experience.

Making Your Own Choices

A decision about where to attend college may be the first important decision your teen makes on his own.Thus utilizing tools like list-making, research, and really listening to his thoughts and his “gut feelings" are very important.

Keeping a list of what she needs in a college is very important. It gives her something to refer back to when conflicted about whether a college is really right for her. It also helps her maintain mental focus. Her list may be upgraded frequently, and that is normal; however, keeping the list will help her to remember key details about what she truly wants from the college experience.

Research will help him make good decisions, too. Advise him to check with alumni of the colleges in which he is interested in order to get real information about the college experience at specific locations. Also do Internet research to read as many articles about the college he wants to attend as possible.

Help her to find some quiet time to allow herself to truly listen to the thoughts in her mind. Be certain she doesn't make this important decision in a whirlwind vortex of conflicting opinions from others and competing thoughts from her own mind. She knows her true dreams and goals better than anyone else. Tell her to heed her thoughts and make a decision she will be comfortable with for a lifetime.

Keeping Your Own Counsel

Too often friends are jealous or sad if a peer gets accepted by a college that they wanted and did not receive. Tell your teen to keep in mind if he tells others his news, he may also have to deal with the any jealous emotions they express. This just adds to all of the stress of his decision-making process. Remind a teen that sometimes the time during making a college decision is a time to keep his own counsel. Sharing every bit of “breaking news” about college acceptances he has received too often just adds to the cauldron of drama brewing all around him. Remember, too, that a college does not send out all of its acceptance letters at once, so the timing of your child's letter may not affect others.


When stress is getting to her she can shut out the outside world for 30 minutes or more and meditate. Tell her to find a quiet space to herself and calm her mind with meditation. Clearing her mind of all thought helps one to relax and slow down a racing mind. Meditation is a wonderful tool that allows one to step back from thinking and then return to life feeling more focused and less stressed.


Exercise is a must for any stressful time. Getting one’s body moving helps the body release stress and toxins. Exercise helps one focus on rhythm of the body rather than the worries of the mind. A good walk, run, or workout helps boosts energy and helps one feel better physically.

Taking a walk before making any important decision gives one “alone time” to think and let the mind mull over options. A good walk helps the mind make more thoughtful decisions. Exercise will help your teen before he makes his decision and it also helps him relieve stress while he waits to hear from the colleges he has chosen.

Positive Thinking and Visualization

She can use positive thinking and visualization to help her through tough times as she works through the process of making a final decision about which college to attend and awaiting news. Tell her to picture herself happily starting college on the first day or starting to pack for college. Keep good images of her future will motivate her.

Focusing on positive thoughts and using exercise and meditation will bring him back to a positive place if he is getting too worried.