Happy college days: college decisions over the holidays


Elizabeth Flower '20, Copy Editor

There are very few times in our lives when we put everything out there to get either accepted or rejected because of it, and the senior college application process is one of those times, according to South counselor Beth Walsh-Sahutske.

Walsh-Sahutske said there’s definitely stressed involved with applying to colleges, especially during the holidays when certain colleges release their decisions. She then emphasized how it’s important to be aware of surroundings when checking those results.

“If you’re on a bus with a lot of other students going to an event, for example, and if you do get in, and a good friend sitting next to you doesn’t get in, that’s awkward for both of you,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “So I really caution people to think about where they want to be when they check their decision.”

Walsh-Sahutske said when decisions are released depends on each individual school. A lot of regular decision schools will release their results in the spring, yet some rolling admission schools, such as University of Michigan, will release their first decision pool around the holidays.

“That first decision pool won’t come out typically until the last day before Christmas break, at the end of the day,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “Because there’s a massive amount of releases, then it might come the day before. But it’s around that same time period for the first run at admissions.”

Kathleen Carroll ’19 said for her, the college application process has been stressful and busy so far. She said there’s a lot of things to get done that she wasn’t well aware of.

“For the colleges with rolling admissions–specifically Michigan and Michigan State–I visited my counselor the first week of school and asked when I should apply to these places and he said their applications had been open for a month,” Carroll said. “I felt like I missed a checkered flag or something.”

On the other hand, Allison Frazer ’19 said the process for her has been manageable.

“I applied to most of my schools in September and October,” Frazer said. “I have applied to Yale, Cornell, the University of Rochester, Smith College, U of M, Michigan State, Case Western Reserve, and Vanderbilt. The only school I have left to apply to is Rice.”

Carroll is applying to over ten schools. She applied one early decision and said those results are releases mid-December, and therefore have less impact on the holidays, unlike the schools that release decisions right by Christmas.

“It’s a little bit depressing that University of Michigan releases their decisions on Christmas Eve, that’s pretty intimidating,” Carroll said.

Frazer said she will be getting two decisions around Christmas, but she believes it won’t make her holidays any worse if she’s rejected.

Finding out around the holidays might actually make difficult decisions better,” Frazer sais. “It will be nice to have something to distract me if I get rejected and being accepted can only make the holiday better.”

Parents give Walsh-Sahutske more feedback if a student gets waitlisted or deferred over the holidays, rather than rejected.

Typically, if a student was flat-out denied than it was kind of more of a long shot school. So that hasn’t really as much the case,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “Usually it’s that frustration and that disappointment of getting a deferment. You just have to do everything you can within your control, because it’s out into the universe and somebody else’s decision at that point.”

Walsh-Sahutske said people shouldn’t treat getting deferred the same as getting rejected.

“When you get deferred, it’s not the end of the line,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “I tell people to be hopeful, you’re not a slam dunk, but it means that they want to see more and they’re intrigued by the possibility of you being a student there.”

Carroll agreed with Walsh-Sahutske on being deferred.

“Deferred isn’t as bad as rejected because there’s still a chance,” Carroll said. “A lot of But it would be nice to have a concrete decision because if you apply early decision and if you get accepted you know right away. If you get deferred that automatically extends to you finding out five months from submitting your application.”

According to Frazer, the waiting has been the hardest part of the whole application process.

“It has been very stressful and a little frustrating,” Frazer said. “I hate rethinking everything I’ve done, and sometimes it’s hard to just let it all go and think about other things.”

For Carroll, it’s been hard to balance her coursework and the work she has to put in when applying to various colleges.

“I took a lot of hard classes, and for me my senior year classes are like junior year all over again. except now I’m expected to both maintain my grades and get all these applications in on time and it’s a lot,” Carroll said.

Around the holidays is the earliest certain colleges could possibly get any sort of answer out to students who applied, according to Walsh-Sahutske.

“For example, I know from my work on the counselor advisory board at Michigan that they have to work crazy hours just to get that deadline,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “The only other option, and I know it’s something that they’ve thought about, is pushing it entirely back until January and I don’t know if that would be any better, frankly.”

Carroll said if she gets an acceptance over holiday break, it will make her break better. But if it’s a rejection, it’s something she might think about for a while.

“Kids tend to apply early to schools they really want to get into,” Carroll said. “So if you find out that you didn’t get in right before Christmas, that can kind of cast a shadow over it, like ‘worst Christmas present ever’ kind of thing. So in that aspect, I think finding out regular decision like March, April, is a little bit nicer.”

Walsh-Sahutske said it’s important for students to keep any college decision information to themselves.

“It’s always the safer, more powerful thing to do,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “Because you can’t really control how someone interprets that information once it’s out.”

Walsh-Sahutske emphasized that overall, students should make sure to take care of their mental and physical health during the application and decision process because it can be overwhelming.

“I really don’t want a decision to make or break somebody’s life,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “You are for more than whether a school says yes or no or maybe.”