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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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The Good and the Bad: How to Handle Early Decision News

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As the fall semester of your senior year of high school comes to a close, colleges start to send out their initial round of admissions decisions. It is a bit early for regular admissions decisions, but colleges will definitely be sending out decisions to applicants who applied for Early Decision or Early Action. If you haven’t applied to a school under that option, take a breath. You won’t be hearing back for another few months. If you did, it’s time for your first round of admission decisions!


By this point in the semester, you may be experiencing a great amount of stress and anxiety as you wait to hear back from the colleges you applied to as an ED/EA applicant while also juggling extracurriculars and heading towards final exams. We at CollegeVine recognize this and want to help you get through this trying time.


Here is a helpful guide to help you deal with admissions anxiety and what to do if you’ve already heard from schools. We’ll take each possible scenario you could be going through right now as an Early Decision or Early Action applicant and give you our best advice on how to get through it.


If You Haven’t Received Any Letters Yet


If you haven’t received your decision letter/email yet, that is perfectly normal. Sometimes, due to a high volume of applicants or other reasons that students cannot possibly predict, colleges wait until the end of a semester or even later to release their decisions to Early Decision applicants. Whether you receive your decision sooner or later has no indication of whether you have been accepted to the college or not. For some more reassurance, see Early Action: What to Do After the EA/ED Deadline?


However, you ought to double check and make sure that you haven’t received the admissions letter or email already! Check your email junk folder, your mailbox, or the online application portal for the university you applied to in order to make sure that you haven’t accidentally missed the notification.


The radio silence you are hearing from colleges right now is probably deafening. If the anxiety of not receiving a decision is really bugging you, try these things to calm yourself down:


Don’t compare yourself to your friends


If your friends have already received their early decision letters from other colleges, congratulate them (or console them if they did not receive the news they were hoping for) and then tune them out. There is no need to stress yourself out further by comparing yourself to your friends. We at CollegeVine know it’s all too easy to stress yourself out by thinking, “My friend got their letter! How come I haven’t gotten mine?”, so try your best to avoid those thoughts. To help you interact with your peers during this time, read about How to Talk To Your Classmates About College.


Keep yourself busy


It’s your senior year of high school! You have far more fun things to do then sit around stressing about college applications. You should make an effort to participate in school activities and attend events like football games, dances and formals, and other fun activities. This will probably be your last chance to experience these things, and it’ll be a nice distraction from college applications. For more tips like these, see How to Deal With College Admissions Anxiety.


Focus on other college applications


Many application deadlines for regular college admissions have not passed yet, but they will soon. This is your time to perfect your other applications and make sure that you are poised for college admissions success if your early decision news does not pan out the way you had hoped. If you would like more tips on how to approach your other applications, check out Focusing on Your Second and Third Choice College Applications.

If You Received a Deferral or Rejection Letter

Sorry to hear that! This is certainly not the news you were hoping for, but it is not the end of the world. Tons of students get rejected or deferred from schools every year, and they end up doing just fine. Some even end up going to colleges that they end up liking better than the one they applied to as an ED/EA applicant.


They key to emotionally dealing with this is to try not to take the rejection personally. Colleges look through thousands of qualified applicants, and while they are looking for certain qualifications, they are also looking for the students who are a good fit for the school. So if you were rejected or deferred, it may be because you wouldn’t have fit in at that college. All that means is that there is another school that is a better fit for your skills, interests, and personality.


It is perfectly healthy for you to grieve about this news for a little bit. However, don’t take too long! This is the time for you to be enjoying your Senior Year and focusing on other college applications. If you are unsure about how to move forward, here are some things you can try:


If you were deferred


While it certainly may feel like a rejection, remember that it is definitely not! You are still in consideration for admission with the university, and it’s not that uncommon for students to get accepted after they were deferred. While you can’t resubmit your application, you don’t have to just sit there biting your nails for the next few months. You ought to think of this as a do-over opportunity. Send in some supplemental materials such as an updated transcript, GPA, class rank, or a portfolio. This may help your admissions chances, and it could give you some peace of mind to know that you are doing everything you can to get accepted to this university.


If you were rejected


Once again, sorry! We understand that you are probably not feeling the most confident right now, and that is completely normal. However, there are plenty of other colleges for you to apply to, and their deadlines have not passed yet! Get cracking on those applications as soon as you feel you’re ready!


For more information, see Dealing With Rejection From Your Top College Choice.


If You Received an Acceptance Letter


Congratulations! You are college bound! This is wonderful news!  While this is definitely a time to congratulate yourself and celebrate, it is important to remain humble and appreciative.


Say Thank You


You should take this time to thank the people who helped you through this admissions process such as the teachers who wrote your recommendation letters, your guidance counselors, and anybody else who you want to thank. You ought to personally thank these people with an in-person thank you or with a nice note or gift. For ideas, check out Saying Thank You: Gift Ideas for Anyone Who Helped in the College Application Process.


Don’t Gloat


You should also make sure that you are cognizant of your friends’ feelings during this time. While you may be done with your college admissions process, many of your friends and classmates are may have been rejected or may still be stressed out as they wait for results. Try not to gloat, and make sure you are being a good friend.


Start Planning


Now that you’ve been accepted to a university, it’s time to start planning for college life. Maybe you ought to consider taking a trip down to the university campus to get a feel for the student life and even meet with a financial aid officer. You should also start doing research about financial aid, details about the campus, housing, and the surrounding area. You should also be sure to do these 10 Things You Still Need To Do Even After You’ve Chosen a College.


Don’t Slack Off


Lastly, remember that just because you were accepted to a college doesn’t mean that high school doesn’t matter anymore. Colleges almost always want to see your final transcript, and if your grades drop low enough, they could potentially rescind your admission. So make sure that you’re not slacking off in your classes!


For More Information


For more tips on how to deal with stress and anxiety in high school and some more information about college admissions decisions, see the following blog posts:


6 Things to Consider Before Early Application Deadlines

5 Ways to Get Started on Your College Applications Now

What Is the Ideal Timeline for the College Application Process?

How Do I Appeal My Admissions Decision?


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!