Application deadlines have come and gone for many, who now find themselves in a situation where they can do nothing but wait, wonder, and hope. After the hectic and stressful period leading up to those deadlines, the calm after the storm can be jarring for some; they struggle to let go of the process and agonize over whether they missed anything or could have done something better. Others are all-too-happy to be finished with application craziness and forget about everything until decision days draw near. Regardless of which camp you fall in, here are a few dos and don’ts to consider after your applications have been submitted.
Do keep a couple copies of your applications, particularly your essays, in a safe place. I say a couple for the same reason that you should have multiple copies of anything, especially when it’s in a digital format: if your computer crashes, you need to have backups. So save your work on your hard drive, copy them to a CD or external drive, and stick some hard copies in your filing cabinet. You never know when you might need or want them again.
Don’t delete drafts of your application materials. Instead, save them in the same places you save your final copies. This suggestion might seem odd, but plagiarism is rampant in today’s academic world. Professors and admissions officers alike are becoming increasingly vigilant about confirming that the work they receive is original. If you keep some of your working copies, you’ll be better equipped to prove that your submissions are indeed your own work if that fact is ever questioned. It’s the same reason math professors ask you to show your work when solving an equation.
Do go back and look at your essays or personal statement from time to time. This can be a fun way to reflect on a stressful time while also to preparing yourself for future writing assignments of a similar nature. Just make sure you don’t let reflection turn into, “Oh man I should’ve done X instead of what I did.”
Don’t constantly reread your applications looking for flaws and agonizing over whether they’re good enough. Your apps have already been submitted so there’s nothing you can do to change them now. You gave them your best effort, which is all the admissions committee can ask for. Now it’s their turn to agonize over your work, along with every other applicant’s.
Do remember that some parts of your application may come in useful in other places. For example, essays might come in handy if you’re applying for a grant, fellowship, or something similar that also require a pice of writing. Resumes and CVs are a necessity when applying for jobs. Even if you don’t use exactly the same versions that you submitted with your application, having a place to start will make creating updated drafts much easier.
Don’t forget to send thank-you notes to any relatives, professors, or friends who helped you during the application process. Whether by writing a letter of recommendation on your behalf or simply reading through your essay and giving you a second opinion, such individuals have supported you and enhanced your chances of admission. Take a few minutes to let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.
Do work to build perspective. If you get in everywhere you applied, great! Realistically, though, you’re most likely going to receive at least a few rejections in the coming months. Recognize that not earning admission to a school or program is not the end of the world but instead just another opportunity for personal growth.