WASHINGTON – For the first two weeks of April there was only one person Lauren Grady wanted to see after school every day: the mailman.
“I would check the mail every day, it was insane,” said Grady, 18, a senior at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. “Everyday I would look through, make sure. . . .”
Grady’s anxiety over her college acceptance letters sometimes made her so nervous she called one or more of the six schools where she applied, to make sure they did not lose her application or that they had all the necessary documents to make a decision.
“For some schools I started to worry,” she continued. “When I found out they had made a decision, I was so frantic . . . maybe my GPA (grade point average) wasn’t high enough or my SATs. . . .”
At the beginning of April, many high school seniors find themselves like Grady, nervously waiting for their last acceptances or rejections in the mail. It is a situation that students describe as “frantic,” “grueling” and “stressful.”
“They usually hear by April 15,” said Patricia Chandler, the registrar at Wootton High School in Rockville. “Now is usually the time when they’re having to decide.”
While they may momentarily be expressing “relief” at receiving their letters, students now face the new challenge of deciding which college to attend, weighing factors such as cost and location.
“I definitely knew I wanted to go out of state . . . I want to experience other things,” said Lauren Mullinax, 18, a senior at McDonough High School in Charles County. “But my decision is totally different than my parents.”
Not only are her parents footing the bill, but she is the first of their children to leave home.
Mullinax was accepted into all three of the schools she applied to – the University of Maryland, Cedar Crest College and Florida State University – and she will be pushing for Florida State when she seeks final approval from her parents.
She has until May 1 to make a final decision, which is the generally accepted date for students to get their final answer to a college, unless the student asks for a formal extension.
Mullinax said she understands her parents’ involvement.
“They’re going to be paying for my college, so I have to convince them that’s where their money should go,” Mullinax said. “It’s my first time going to college . . . it’s their first child going to college.”
Not all high school seniors have heard back from all the colleges where they applied. Some schools, like Drexel University, work on “rolling admission,” which means the earlier students get their applications in, the earlier they hear back from the school, said Eric Szentesy, the assistant director of admissions at Drexel.
“We don’t work on a deadline,” Szentesy said.
But that can also mean that students may not have heard from Drexel by mid-April. That’s the case for Uche Iwugo, 17, a Montgomery Blair High School senior, who applied to 10 schools, including Fairleigh Dickinson University, Towson University and Drexel.
He has not heard back from Drexel, but said it does not matter all that much because he got into his first choice — Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“I chose Fairleigh Dickinson,” he said. “I’m pretty happy.”
“I see the whole thing as a mind-wrecking process,” Iwugo said. “I’m just glad to say it’s all over.”