young woman warming herself with a cup of tea

Waiting on college decisions? Here’s why you shouldn’t stress.

You’ve spent months sending out transcripts, securing letters of recommendation, paying random fees, writing about who you are in 400 words or less, filling out personal information in annoying online forms, and stressing about your future. Now what?

Maybe you’re all jazzed up from applying. Or maybe you’re all frazzled that someone you know already got accepted somewhere (that darn Hannah always has everything figured out). Either way, you want answers now.

Should you call your admissions counselor every day and ask about your application status? Should you start drafting more college essays for the heck of it? 

No, you fools! The best thing to do right now is relax.

closeup of student's shoes while they go for a walk

“But I skipped Stu’s Senior Bash so I could finish this stinking application on time, and now you’re telling me to forget about it?”

We get it. The last thing you want to hear is that you need to wait, but for now, that’s all you can do. Take a breath and let it go, because it’s out of your hands. 

This in-between time doesn’t have to be miserable. Go for a walk, turn on your favorite movie, dress up like a cowboy. Do whatever you like to do when you’re being you. If you understood that last sentence, you’re well on your way to success already.

hands, brightly lit, placed around a glowing crystal ball

“This is all well and fine,” you might be saying, “but I need to know if I’m going to have a school to go to next year!”

Again, relax. You’re scared because you don’t know where you’re going to be spending the next few years of your life. The thing is, though, nobody does. Unless you’re a really, really, really good fortune teller, you’re never going to know for sure what your future holds. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that.

This isn’t something to get down about when it comes to college plans, where you can always change your major or transfer to a new school if things don’t work out. Focus on today. 

“You’re just spitting out cheesy positivity and annoying aphorisms! How the heck am I supposed to ‘relax’ about college decisions? This is serious stuff, not bologna!”

First of all, bologna is the most serious of all meats. And second of all, if you’re this concerned, let’s dare to think ahead. What’s the worst that can happen when you hear back about college decisions? That you won’t get accepted into any of them? In that highly unlikely scenario, you’d work it out. You could get a job and apply again for the next semester. Or you could start off at a community college and then transfer to a larger institution to finish up your bachelor’s degree.

Getting rejected from the college of your dreams might throw a wrench in your plans, but when you look at the big picture, it’s just a hiccup (or at most, a very painful stubbed toe). There are infinite roads to happiness. You will find a way. After all, you’ve made it through all those college applications. That means you have perseverance and self-discipline, and above all, moxie. Remember that going forward, and be proud of it. 

view of a large and complicated hedge maze

Whatever happens—and we mean this when we say it, so pay attention—whatever happens, you will make it in the end. Even if the way you get there is a little different than you imagined, you’ll get there.

We can’t tell you to simply not be stressed, but we can explain why you shouldn’t be. Where you go to college isn’t the be-all and end-all of your life. You don’t need to be anxious right now, because your application is out of your hands; it was the moment you hit “submit.” Try to enjoy this in-between time. Waiting for college decisions is hard, but you can make it fun.

Remember, right now you’re a senior, which means you are by definition cool. Enjoy your last few months, and finish strong, healthy, and happy.

UIUC Admissions

We're here for you as you prepare for college. Whether you're looking for guidance on the college search process or have questions about Illinois, we hope our blogs will help!


  • This actually makes me stress out even more about wether I got accepted or not. Haha…. :I

  • This was amazing, I really needed to hear that 🙂 Keep doing things like this to support people because I’m telling you, it really does have an impact on us.
    You guys are the coolest

  • I will not feel any stress any more after receiving this letter. I believe that UIUC is a very excellent University because it is the Only one that tells students not to feel stress. Thanks for a lot.

  • Awesome article! Really said what I felt and the last paragraph is literally what I need to hear right now. ?❤️It’s so nice for UIUC to send out this message at such a stressful time. Appreciate it and thank you 🙂

  • Hands down, best piece of advice for seniors out there. Can’t wait (but will wait, relaxed) for UIUC decisions. 🙂

  • This relieved my stress as the results will be soon released..! I will be patiently waiting for them and relaxing for now:) Thank you?

  • Nothing make me feel better than this ♥️ Thank you for your concern towards us ✨

  • At the beginning of this article I was thinking, yes they are crazy my heart is racing right now but once I got to the end, they are right. If I don’t get in, I will apply next semester or the semester after that because I refuse to give up on going to UIUC! If I get stressed again I will go back and read this article until I calm down again.

  • True,all we can do is wait…so why don’t we just relx,take a break.. don’t be so frustrated~whereever you get in you are mean to be there. Thank you so much!that was really helpful!

  • This post does a really good job of calming a stressed out senior. Very true and funny at the same time. Thanks for the great advice UIUC.

  • That is really really reassuring to me. In fact, I am looking forward to embrace whatever decision; for I have done all I can do, and the rest is determined by god. I can feel no stress or anxiety at all!

  • Read a lot of time and really helpful! My parents also told me similar things too. Love UIUC

  • I was really stressing about the decision coming out on December 13th for early action, one of my first decisions I’m going to get, but thanks to this article I guess I won’t stress out about my decision too much.

  • Thanks for the vote of confidence UIUC. This is what separates you from other less involved colleges.??

  • This blog is really HELPFUL!!! I almost stressed out these days. THANK U SO MUCH! Just CAN’T wait for UIUC decision, hope I can get in.

  • you know what, I would be relaxing if I hadn’t chose IB and have a ton of IAs and EEs and CAS dragging me into hell right now

  • Given that Early Action results come out tomorrow, this was the perfect time to read such an article and calm my nerves. Thanks UIUC for making sure that all students are stress-free and relaxed for a few moments.

  • Good perspective. However, what is the precise reason that Illinois is not keeping pace with essentially every other major educational system in the country with admittance? Never really heard why waiting is better than knowing? What’s the challenge, or advantage to the Illinois system being nearly the last one to the party?

  • Thanks for reaching out, Rob. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university suspended its early action admission notification this year. All new freshman applicants will be notified of their admission status in mid-February. This single notification date allows applicants additional time to potentially test or retest, as ACT and SAT exams were canceled throughout the spring and summer, and for us to provide a thorough holistic review. We hope this helps! If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to email us or call us at 217-333-0302.

  • That’s really cool and I will handle my stuffs in a positive but relaxing way. Thanks a lot

  • Owo! Really nice and well crafted advice in form of sequential stress relaxing doses for queries ! Good initiative 👍. Certainly and eagerly waiting for decision communication

  • This was really helpful for easing my mind! My nerves are definitely really high right now, but it’s relaxing to hear that I’ve done everything I can do. Thanks for continuing to reach out, UIUC!

  • Yep, I think so. Future cannot be controlled totally on my hand. But I can adjust my mindness!

  • Thank You! I appreciate the advice, I was really stressing about the UIUC Admissions but now I will be more relaxed.

  • Just earlier today, I was just had negative feeling inside me. I felt that nothing could have fixed the problem because not many know. But this! This message is blessing. I like to thank this article for helping me. Very helpful!

  • Storytelling is an art and this article is perfect example to convey simple but meaningful message to all of us. It means a lot to know you care and makes me believe in UIUC.

  • My son is waiting for his acceptance/denial, and I received this email and it makes me think of my my college friends writing this email. We all shared a house at U of I on 2nd and John, and I found your example of dressing up like a cowboy and bologna, to bring me right back to that time – my friends could’ve easily written this blog post. Thanks, really enjoyed it and couldn’t agree more. Whatever happens will happen, and you’ll be you and you’ll be great!

  • Thanks, a good message many of us have several other acceptances already but waiting to hear from the ILLINI.

  • I was stressing out, but never said anything to anyone about it. Thank you for thinking about us too. It really helps to know that it’s not just me, who thinks these things. Thank you 🙂

  • We have applied to several other schools and have heard back from them early and because your process takes so long you are in jeopardy of losing us, get it together UofI!

  • I’m so glad I read this! Waiting for admission results is a little bit stressful but I hope for the best. Thank you UIUC for providing blogs for not just your students, but applicants as well!

  • Thank you UIUC for sending out this message at this moment before the decisions come out! It means so much to us seniors 😀

  • Thank you for considering our feelings! Hopefully I get an acceptance from UIUC in February! The wait is so hard but I am trying my best to be patient.

  • Thank you so much! After reading the other comments, I agree that your timing was on point, and your kind words are much appreciated!

  • The only reason I am stressed is because this is my DREAM SCHOOL! I hope I don’t get my toe stubbed.

  • Really appreciate it, we as a parent also needs this kind of assurance and advice at this point of time. Thank you and good luck to all Illinois applicants.

  • Wow, great post UIUC ! The Illinois admissions team definitely wins the major college award for most creative and entertaining communications. I really needed this boost – Thx!!

  • Thank you (: That was comforting and I appreciated the advice! A very engaging read and as I scrolled through I definitely felt a lot less stressed than when I began. hopefully (if it is what’s best) I’ll be a future #ILLINI !
    Here is a huge organization that I always support, for anyone interested…

  • Thank you so much for being considerate and taking the time to write this beautiful piece. Made me feel less stressed instantly 🙂

  • I initially freaked out a bit to see UIUC in my email inbox, but it turned out for the best. Thank you so much UIUC for this helpful and much-needed blog post! You guys are amazing!

  • Thank you so much for this amazing post! What you all mentioned is really important to all seniors like me. I really appreciate it so much and thanks again UIUC🧡

  • Thank you for the positivity. It’s been a stressful few months. This will definitely remedy the stress.

  • Be that as it may, it’s great to have a community that likes to unite during these trying times. Great advice from a great university, proud to call myself an Illinoisian. Very hopeful to be a part of this great community next year!

  • Wow, that’s so helpful. And UIUC is the only one I heard about this, and especially UIUC is my dream college, too. So appreciate this. Thank you!!!

  • Thank you for the upbeat update! We will be looking forward to hearing from you again in the near future.

  • Worry will change neither the effort I mad nor the results I will receive. peace out🙌

  • Thanks you! I Iike that sentence in the article:“whatever happens, you will make it in the end. ”

  • Thank you so much for all this “cheesy positivity”!! It really makes a lot of difference! If I get stressed again about my college decisions, I’m coming back to this article!

  • This is an interesting perspective on the admissions processes and common misconceptions about “what prospective students should be doing” during this period of our lives. I think that while we should manage our stress, it is still important to plan for the worst-case scenario. In any case, this article was an interesting read.

  • I’m going to be honest. While the article is nice and somewhat motivational, the mail/emails i get from the colleges that provide no intel on my admission decisions stress me out the most. I think that maybe I’ll get an answer but I just get a coloring book or inspirational messages. I understand this could be helpful to some, but it is definitely not for me.

  • I love UIUC!! I don’t know any other school that guides us in the way they do. Takes time out to tell us we have nothing to worry about, and provides us coloring sheets. I appreciate this article.

  • Actually most kids aren’t stressed about hearing decisions from other schools. Almost every school has already responded by now. U of I is one of the last.

  • Well, this article and the email I got yesterday from Gies were the best ones I ever got from any college during this stressful period. Very well thought and put… Thanks for the empathy and for the effort to ease the nerve-wracking pressure!

  • Just what I needed to read now.We need to relax and enjoy our last few months in highschool than think about things beyond our control.

  • This is amazing at how this University continues to uplift us even in the most uncertain of times. Keep it up with the memes, and the really great advice!

  • I’m really glad I read this article! Really appreciate UIUC for caring about its prospective students.

  • Ok you send out emails to say not to stress if they get in. But did he get into your school like seriously how can you send this to kids but yet you don’t let them know if they got in!!!

  • I believe that, in the gallery of life, there is a gate bound to for, as well as to fit me, and it’s surely awaiting for my approach and then unlocking it.

  • I’ve been stressing out so bad about college applications for so long. Reading this felt like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t know how much I needed to read this until now. Thank you so much!

  • Thank you for your considerate advice. UIUC Admission team is AWESOME! Good luck to all class of 2026.

  • I loved the subtle humor of the post. And of course, it’s very helpful for many of us. Thank you admissions 🙂

  • “Should you start drafting more college essays for the heck of it?”

    Hahaha Do people write college essays for fun?

  • I hope this will be helpful to reduce my pressure a bit, but it will not go away until UIUC’s admission!

  • This was a great and truly helpful article! I love the message of just living in the moment. Sometimes we get so caught up about our future instead of realizing that we have another great day in front of us to enjoy.

  • Here is why this is absolutely not helpful…and funny that it is coming from University of Illinois. (Since it is one of the latest to provide a response – and THE latest for those to which my son applied).

    What you are not mentioning is that while everyone is on pins and needles for a U of I response, other colleges are moving forward.

    This includes picking roommates and dorms for the freshman year.
    Several years ago, my daughter DIDN’T stress, waited for all responses, and guess what, didn’t get into the dorm she wanted (with others of her major). Of course, everything worked out and she loves her college, but what a better way to stress a freshman out then to start off their college years with less students of similar interests near by.
    My son is not willing to accept the same fate. U of I was one of his first choices and loved the tour he did with an old high school friend. However, he is choosing another college because he isn’t willing to wait and take the risk, especially if he isn’t even accepted. I mean, this is pretty arrogant to even post, really. Just sitting back and waiting for the ‘best’ applications to come in (many from other countries), while those that help fund the school with state taxes wait patiently at home – many of which won’t even be accepted.

    Additionally, which I know you have no control over, but man, U of I is super expensive for in-state tuition. Compared to other top-level universities, we are a disaster….almost as much as out of state tuition to other colleges that actually offer scholarships. Sucks to loose in-state talent.

  • Awesome article, really fun and easy to read. Thank you UIUC!!! I really felt better now, helpful indeed!

  • Thanks! Much Needed for this anxious parent.
    In response to Tony, who posted today, be grateful that your son has an option to choose that quickly. When you have a music major student, the application process has only just begun! UIUC actually offers early auditions/applications and still will let us know in February. February is the earliest of any of the schools we applied to! Try having every weekend booked in January & February with auditions and not knowing if your child gets accepted to the school and the music school (double application process for music students!) until April! Be grateful that your son has a plethora of schools to choose from.
    I am grateful for these fun blogs and any school that my child can get into twice – not just the university but also the music school after auditioning and sending in prescreens!

  • It was an article that made my anxious mind comfortable. Thank you and I hope everyone has a happy new year.

  • This was really well said and really well timed. However, it only makes me more eager for my UIUC decision. 🙂

  • I don’t feel this is at all helpful. The other universities that my son applied to have already responded with acceptance and scholarship money. They’re also starting the process of dorm choice. If you wait to here from U of I and either don’t get in or don’t receive the scholarships you need – then you risk choices at your other schools. My son is not willing to risk missing out on scholarship money or the chance to get the dorm of his choice. U of I is losing talented students to other colleges that provide feedback early.

  • A very very nicely worded meaningful communication to youngsters. Highly needed and aptly sent, appreciate.

  • You have no idea how much I needed that email. Thank you so much! I know it’s just auto generated but it still pulled me back into reality so thank you again.

  • Thank you to UIUC Admissions for making this post! It made me realize just how stressed I was in the past few weeks. I will for sure try my best to enjoy life and relax. 😀

  • It’s so kind for UIUC to send this thoughtful message which make me feel warm in this time. Thank you♥️ ♥️ ♥️ and hope I can get in UIUC.

  • Thanks for this amazing letter. It really relieves my stress and let me look outside the campaign of admission. It’s kind for UIUC to send out this message at this moment.

  • Thank you for this hopeful message. It is an anxious time for many seniors, but your positive (and humorous) perspective helps.

  • Great!!! Thank you, UIUC Admission!
    I will try to relax and wait for the decision hahahahahah~
    I love UIUC!

  • That sure is some words of wisdom. Amazing stuff! Could really use some suggestions and support like this. Big thank you to UIUC ! ! !

  • Agree, already some great options in and even more paths to follow if my ideal situation (UIUC) does not come about. Thank you and excited to hear from UIUC at the end of the month!

  • This is beyond words, what better way to keep the aspirations high. Love this approach….. kudos to team ♥️

  • That’s a great article ! Thank you.
    Yes We are stressed but that’s only because we do care . Fingers crossed and good luck to all !

  • Thank you! UIUC is the only school that sends emails and jokes to me. I do feel better now! Looking forward for your decision letter✨

  • “Infinite roads to happiness.” What a great mindset. I love this. Thank you!

  • This is a great piece of advice for the MOMS, TOO! My only beef with it (pun very much intended) is that bologna is so not the most serious of meats. That is clearly brisket.

  • We have had from all the other colleges, just not this one. I had thought this website would provide information about the delay.

  • Does this apply to parents too? We seem to be more on the tenterhooks than the applicant! 🙂

  • That was very helpful and took some stress away from this process! I appreciate the last paragraphs as they made me realize to appreciate the little time that we seniors have left! 🧡💙

  • I really needed this hahaha. I think it’s a great article and it’s very helpful of UIUC to send it at this time.

  • thank you very much for this message. pretty funny that you reused a blog from 4 years ago but its cool

  • Not really helpful…got responses from all of the other college applications already. Now just waiting for a response from the University of Illinois. Even worse; I’m an Illinois Resident. Time to change your policies to better serve & prioritize your taxpaying residents…like the other similar other state schools appear to be doing.

  • That was actually so helpful! This seemed so much more personal and relatable than similar “positive” posts.
    Thank you!

  • Thanks so much! Cannot stress enough how helpful articles like this are during such a drastic change in my life. I always love reading about different perspectives on stressful situations.

  • Such a helpful article, thanks!
    Can’t wait to get a positive feedback from you for my son .
    Thanks to UIUC

  • This is the only school I’ve seen so far that cares about the stress and feelings of applicants, feel very touched

  • It is perfect how this article simultaneously contemplated and answered the exact chronological series of my thoughts. Thank you for this much-needed stress reliever. Eagerly [but calmly] waiting for the result!

  • Ok. This qualifies as the best post out of all the typical shreadware colleges send this time of the year. Good job UIUC!

  • My son very anxious but I am probably stressing more. But I had told my son that he may not end up where he thought he would be, but he always ended up where he is meant to be so don’t worry and be happy.

  • So true. Take it from someone who graduated at a college rated 720 or so worldwide. It is all absolutely up to you what you make out of your college years no matter your starting point. Hard work is and equalizer. All you need is a bit of luck. Just trust your intuition. In the workplace nobody cares where you graduated but how many dots you can connect, how far in the future you see, how hard you work and how realiable is your work. Good luck and remember, no matter where you graduate, behave as you graduated at #1 in the world!

  • Thank you for your kind words! It’s really helpful to have someone who understands what feeling we have.

  • I want to say the same thing “relax” to my son, but i don’t know how, thank you so much ❤️

  • I will be grateful if I get an opportunity to study in your great prestigious college. You have such a compassion towards students, right from helping them how to write the essay and giving at least 2 examples in each category. I am not stressful but still have butterflies in my stomach and it will be there till Jan 27!

  • Thank you for the very real reminder that what is meant to be, will be…and for throwing in some humor. This is a stressful time indeed! Thank you, UIUC, for your understanding and support through this process.

  • Thank you for the positive outlook on life, glad to hear UIUC cares about it’s students!

  • Thank you so much! This helps me a lot, i hope i can hear some good news from UIUC on last March. (Accepted to UIUC class of 2023, majoring communication and media) amen.

  • This article was incredibly supportive and provided me with many valuable insights. Thank you for your commitment to education and for providing resources that make a real difference in applicants’ lives.

  • These are all the things we hope our kids, waiting on answers, will take to heart. Also, this is the kind of empathetic advice that you hope a schools administration would take time to offer. This says such great things about UIUC!!!

  • Thanks UIUC for this amazing blog .This has really helped me getting over the anxiety and stress of admissions . This is really cool .Great !!

  • So true and reassuring! Thank you for the great write up and showing that a great institution also cares about mental health.

  • I appreciate the assistance. Thank you for providing these essential resources during this time.

  • Thank you so much for your realistic but assuring words. I feel better about this college application process now more than ever before!

  • Wow!If this writer was my friend, I would chat with her/him everyday. What a great heart work, Thank you!

  • Great article! Thanks for being thoughtful. But still anxious to know the acceptance and start preparing for college. Senior year is awesome, but I still cannot resist logging into the portal and checking the status every time an email from the college pops up in my inbox. Especially when it’s the first choice college 🙂

  • Well- I am more stressed than my teenager who is waiting on Illinois ( my Alma maters) to give the green light. Why does it take you guys so long? lol. Illinois is out of state for us. I need to know asap cause that 529 won’t do it.

  • Thank you! I realise college is a track field but I can also run on a rocky mountain. Thank you so much.

  • Fortune telling is not one of my skills, so I’m choosing to stay focused and finish strong.
    Thank you for showing us you care!

  • Thank you so much; this really helped me relax and look forward to what my future hollds!

  • This message came at a perfect time! During this time I plan to let go of my fears and replace that energy with optimism for the future. I can’t wait to see what is in store for myself and other students! 🥳

  • Omg !! Loved it I as a parent keep reminding myself if we are stressed how much kids will be stressed. So we should make this journey joyful for them. Thanks for thinking about kids!! You are the best !!

  • Thank you UIUC for caring about your applicants! It’s stressful, but there’s always gold at the end of the rainbow 🫶!

  • My sincere gratitude to UIUCI for being so thoughtful and supportive with this article.Would be sincerely honoured to be a part of this wonderful institution.Thank you🙏 🙏

  • Waiting is a tough time of perseverance for hope, but articles like this make it feel like it’s worth it. Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for teaching me more healthy ways to deal with the stress of waiting!

  • Your email contributes to a huge release from my heart. Illinois is one of the best universities with essential essays only. I love it.

  • But shouldn’t now be the best time to learn something that you have always wanted to learn? Hahaha, I am currently studying website development and business management. I have wanted to learn those for a long time, but I have been busy with APs, Toefls, ACTs, applications, exams, blablabla, and now I finally have the time 😎.

    btw, there is absolutely no reason to be stressed. Your life will not end just because you go to a school that US News ranks 20 places lower than the one you have expected. As long as you learn real knowledge and be doing what you really want to do, you will be fine.

  • Wonderful advice. Very well written. Life is full of in-between times, and this write up will be handy for all such times.

  • Thank you so much for the beautiful read, UIUC. This is truly helpful and so motivating.

  • Honestly, that was an very good eye-opener! It made me look at the whole colleges stress situation in a new angle, thanks!!

  • It is a really nice thoughtful blog, at the right time. it is helpful. Appreciate thought put behind this.

  • Thank you for your kind words and support. I had to hear that! The words were meaningful to me. Take a breath and let it go, because it’s out of your hands.
    Wishing everyone the best of luck!

  • Thanks UIUC Admissions! I hope my students will be hearing good news from you in few weeks when EA decisions are out!

  • This is good!! As a parent who has gone through this herself, it ALL works out. I did not get into my college of choice – and I tried two times!! But everything has worked out; I am in the field of my choice making a living; and have wonderful memories.

  • Thank you for this! UIUC is my last school to hear back from and I’m really excited, this made me feel a lot better.

  • Thank you for this article! Good to see colleges like UIUC helping dispel a lot of fears about the application process to help us think realistically.

  • helpful very much,thanks a lot. just received a defer letter,could’t help drowning to depress, but now i’m moving to live in the moment🙂

  • Thank you for your insightful post! It really cheered me up making me feel more positive than ever!

  • Absolutely love this blog. I’ve been losing my mind over the possibility of me getting rejected from all my schools. I’m so glad I clicked on that link and read this, I feel so relieved. I’d really like to thank this awesome admissions committee.

  • Thank you so much for those reassuring words in a time of anxiety! This blog is really helpfull and I hope I get into UIUC!!