11/15/2011 08:37 am ET Updated Jan 15, 2012

Waiting For My Fate

This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of three students as they apply for college in their senior year.

The most stressful and difficult part ofthe college application process is the waiting: waiting for your SAT and ACT scores, waiting for letters of recommendation from teachers and counselors, waiting for scholarship and financial aid information, and, finally, waiting for that letter of acceptance. Coping with the waiting isn't easy. I find myself missing meals and sometimes forgetting the day of the week, but I have to say, it does make life a little more interesting. Just last week I walked into my Tuesday physics class on Monday, and the week before that I showed up to physics dressed for Wednesday gym, which my classmates really enjoyed. Waiting is a draining sensation that can't be masked, especially at a time like this.

My first-choice school is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is known for its competitiveness. I spent six weeks there over the summer in the MITES program, and it changed me. I was constantly challenged in an environment that fosters accomplishment. MIT has an early action deadline of November 1, which will then start the countdown to December 15 -- the day letters of acceptance are posted. Over the span of those 45 days, a bevy of MIT admissions officers will dissect my life story, credentials, essays, test scores, grades, letters of recommendation, and anything else they can dig up to decide if I am the right fit for their school. I know that I cannot rely on acceptance to MIT, so, while I wait for their decision, I will submit applications to the other schools I am interested in and excited about, including Stanford, Harvard, University of Michigan and Harvey Mudd. However, I anticipate that the days leading up to MIT's December 15 decision date will be torturous, as I will be nagged by the fear of rejection.

For the most part, I am comfortable with my list of schools, but I know I will go through the same nerve-wracking and stressful process with each one. My list will evolve based on the final letters I receive. One of three things will happen: (1) my list will get shorter in a good way (I receive an acceptance), (2) my list will get shorter in way that could lead to a short-term psychotic breakdown (I receive a rejection), or, worst of all, (3) my suspense will be prolonged and my list will get longer (I receive a deferral).

I turn now from pondering my stressful future to facing my stressful present. It is time to get back to my all-important homework, just another hurdle in the life of an ambitious high school senior.