This can be a tough time of year – it’s cold, we’re tired of being tired, senioritis is spreading faster than the flu, and we’re anxiously waiting all those fat (or thin *sad face*) envelopes that may or may not determine our futures. Yikes, totally not freaking out here.

Okay, take three deep breaths because it’s definitely going to be okay. It’s cliche to say that, but we mean it. Senior year will be over (very!) soon and this will have been but a small bump in the road. Plus, it’s actually not so bad and here are things you can do to remember that it’s not so bad.

1. Make the best of it.
This is YOUR time. Enjoy senior year and keep doing your thing. Hobbies, sports, after-school stuff – keep on keepin’ on. Added bonus: if you earn any awards or recognition for doing what you do, that can boost your standing in the application process, just be sure to update the admissions department (see #3)!

2. Be there for each other.
The application process isn’t all rainbows and sprinkles –  it pretty much sucks for everyone. It can be a nerve-wracking process, only made more so by the expectations and pressures from home, peers, the media, and ourselves. Talk to someone. Lend an ear. Just having someone to commiserate with, who gets it, can go a long way.

3. Be cool about contacting the Admissions dept.
Radio silence from colleges is not cool, but sending a thousand emails and voice-messages to the admissions officer is also not cool. Remember that they’re human too, and overloading them only causes delays, or worse, it could hurt your chances. Reasons you SHOULD contact them include:
• You’ve changed your mind
• There’s a new award, honor, promotion, achievement to be added to your application
• There was a communication error, or the admissions office forgot to contact you after they said they would
• Acceptance/rejection notifications have been sent, but you didn’t hear anything

4. Finish strong.
All aboard The S.S. S – Second Semester Seniors — or not. Seriously, this is your last stretch before it’s all over and you can breathe again. Go to class, maintain your grades, and keep up your extra curriculars. Many colleges are interested in how you finish out the year, and some may even change their mind about you if there’s a noticeable drop in grades or attendance.

5. Keep your chin up!
We can’t stress this enough, because it’s the truth: your grades, your college apps, acceptances or rejection = NOT THE WHOLE YOU. It’s a data-based process, which simply can’t paint the full picture of who you are and who you might become. Stay confident and remember that wherever you go next there will be new opportunities, and it’s up to you to make the most of them.

6. Prepare for whatever may come.
Hope for the best, prepare for whatever. There’s always the possibility that you won’t be admitted to your first, second, or even back-up school. Or maybe you’ll get accepted to your first-choice school with no offer of financial assistance, but a back-up will offer you a full-ride. Be prepared to make a few tough decisions, and have some fall-back options.

7. What’s in a name?
Surely all those big name schools earned their reputation for good reasons. But that doesn’t mean that the other, not so-well-known schools, aren’t able to provide what you need. Seriously, check this eye-opening advice from Cristiana Quinn, founder of College Admissions Advisors:

“Less than 10% of Fortune 500 CEO’s went to an ivy league. Oprah went to Tennessee State, Warren Buffet went to the University of Nebraska, and Colin Powell went to City College of New York. Michael Dell, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs never even graduated from college. The best college for any student is one where he/she will be happy, feel empowered, and be able to excel as a person and as an academic, period.

8. This is just another fork in the road. 
Honestly, it’s not the end of the world if things don’t go perfectly according to plan. There are many routes to becoming a successful adult – you can start at one school and transfer to another later (check their credits transfer info first!), try a different major (career paths don’t follow straight lines!), or even explore different options such as volunteering abroad for a year. The choices and opportunities are endless – you are not limited to what “everyone else is doing” and you are above the expectations of others. So let out a sigh of relief and enjoy the rest of senior year.