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12/30/2013 11:19 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

4 Productive Things To Do While Waiting To Hear Back From Colleges

Sam Edwards via Getty Images

By Katherine Mirani

The worst part of applying to college probably isn’t even applying. It’s waiting -- that awful period in between turning in applications and hearing back, when you’ve finished everything and there’s nothing more you can do to determine whether or not you’ll get in.

So what can you do to make this awful in-between period a little less painful? While I spent most of my post-application time in front of the TV brushing up on my knowledge of the rom-com genre, there are more productive ways to pass the time. Here some ideas from collegiettes on how to make your wait worthwhile.

Get more involved in your activities

You were involved in a million activities while you were applying to college, and hopefully you were doing them because you loved them, not just to look good on applications. But application time is stressful, and it’s probably been a while since you were really able to enjoy yourself in extracurricular activities. Now’s your chance to spend some quality time at your activities and not feel like you have to balance ten million things at once. Help plan events or spearhead a new initiative.

Hannah, a collegiette at NYU, says she used her downtime to spend more time with her gymnastics team.

“I was co-captain that year, so throwing all my focus on that helped me escape from the pressure of waiting,” Hannah says. “I had a ton of extra time senior year, so it was fun to plan fun things for the team, like parties and personalized hair ribbons for competitions.”

“After I applied to all my colleges, at the strong encouragement of my friends, I auditioned for the school musical!” says Elyssa from Boston University. “I had auditioned in my freshman year but focused on other activities for the rest of high school to put on my resume. I got in and it was one of the best experiences of my high school career! All my friends were in the show and we had so much fun! Plus, I didn't allow myself to think about getting into college ‘til the show was over at the end of March. I actually got my acceptance to my top school while I was at a sleepover with the entire cast!”

Getting more involved in an activity and doing a project you can be proud of is a great way to leave for college feeling like you’ve actually accomplished something. It creates awesome senior year memories with friends –- and if you do something amazing, you can always send it to your colleges as a late-but-relevant addition to your applications!

Visit the schools you haven’t seen yet

Especially if you applied to a ton of schools, you may have been too busy to visit every single school you’re interested in prior to finishing your applications. Now may be the perfect time to hit the road and start checking out the places you may be living for the next four years.

“The period from January to April is a great time to figure out what you're looking for,” says Mara, a student at Chatham College. “The window between getting acceptance letters and making a final choice is unbelievably short; the last thing anyone wants is to feel rushed into such a big decision.”

Keep in mind that once you get your acceptance letters in April, most schools will only give you until around May 1 to make a decision. The feel of a campus should play a huge part in which school you choose – you can love a school’s programs and professors, but still just not like the vibe you get from the campus and students.

When deciding where to visit, take your schedule into account and how much time it will take to travel to certain schools –- if you’re from the east coast, it might be too big a trip to visit a school in California. However, also think about which schools are most important to you and where you see yourself ending up. If that California school is your top choice, it should absolutely be a priority to visit. Narrow down your list of schools to only the ones where you really think you might end up.

Think about when you’re going to visit as well. It’s usually better to visit on a weekday, when students are out and about and you might even be able to sit in on a class (on weekends, students are probably either asleep or doing homework in their sweatpants). You also want to be careful not to visit during midterms or finals, when people will be holed up in the library and campus life will be a lot different than usual –- check the school website to see when exam periods are. You might have to miss a day of school to visit at the right time -– only you can decide whether you’re okay with that, but it’s usually fine as long as you’re not doing it all the time.

If visiting schools won’t work with your schedule or budget, there’s plenty of research you can do from home, including reading Her Campus’s Pre-Collegiette Guide.

“I had a good idea where I would be going to school, so I did some research on the area and learned about public transportation,” said Alyssa, a student at the University of Texas. “I was trying to decide if I should take a car or if I could get by without one. That research really came in handy; I saved hundreds of dollars in parking passes, garages, meters and gas!”

Click here to read the rest of the article on HerCampus.com.

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