Don't just apply to college… Position yourself.

First Day of May

“First day of May, things are beginning…our side is winning…hip, hip, hooray!” James Taylor’s exuberant love song celebrates the universal rite of spring, the joy of new life and hope that accompanies the sweet pastel blossoms, the welcome warm weather, and fresh natural fragrances of the first day of May.

As a college consultant, I welcome May first as the closing of one book and the opening of another. The stressful college process is, for the most part, finally finished, a crucible that produces uncertainty and suspense, at least some disappointment as reality replaces illusion, but ultimately yields self-discovery, the opportunity to learn through making choices, and a new direction for a young adult’s life.

May first is the universal date when enrollment deposits are due at the colleges, when the the period of struggle, acceptance and decision has, for the most part, run its course.

There are still many students on waiting lists for the colleges that were their original “dream schools.” These students face the challenging situation of having to choose an institution to which to send their enrollment deposit, a school that was not their first choice, but one that they would also truly enjoy attending for four years. Waiting lists are an unpredictable long shot, and these students are in the process of accepting a reality that unfolds gradually, rather than the sting of a denial that, nevertheless, releases the applicant emotionally to “freely” choose another great college.

But it is understandably difficult for adolescents to go through this white knuckle ride, and they need support and guidance during this time. There is always that remote hope that they will move off the wait list, and it is certainly not easy emotionally to fully embrace the May first enrollment choice under these circumstances.

I encourage these students and families to read my post about waiting lists. Resolution should appear mid to late May, after colleges have all enrollment information in hand. By mid June, most schools close out their waiting lists and the game is finally over.

Now that you know where your son or daughter is going, there is so much to do!  A whole new set of emotions to process. As JT’s song says, “Things are beginning!” Check out my posts: “Senioritis and What To Do About It,” “The College Transition Bible,” and “Looking Toward College.

There is a complicated journey ahead, but before embarking,  May first is a great occasion to pause and say, “Whew!” and “Congratulations!” I am so proud of the high school seniors I have guided this year, in some small way, to discover more about themselves and create a future college experience in which they will thrive.

Hip, hip, hooray!