When you hit submit and the little green arrow appears next to the college's name, you know it's over. You know that all you can do now is wait. Green means, "Go live your life. Stop stressing over perfecting the essay and re-reading everything for errors." When the green arrow appears, seniors are supposed to be able and go do the things that we were doing before Common App went live. Instead, it is a scary moment that means there is nothing left for us to do but wait. There is no longer anything we can do to add to our application. It is completely out of our hands.
Somehow, in the course of applying to nearly a dozen colleges, I have become wise in the ways of getting in. Even though I have yet to receive any big packages in the mail, I am more than willing to share my knowledge. In my Italian 1 class, there are 22 freshmen and me. Whenever one of them talks about how difficult their Algebra class is, I automatically jump into the conversation and tell them to go see their teacher or get a tutor. "Work harder," I yell, because don't want that C or B to keep you from getting accepted into your dream college.
When the underclassmen on my water polo team are talking about quitting the team I tell them to think twice before they quit because it's important to have an activity they have done all four years of high school. It shows commitment.
Telling the younger kids what to do makes me think back on all of the choices I made before my senior year and how I might be a stronger applicant if I had made different choices. For example, in my freshman year, a C in math -- my least favorite subject -- was acceptable. Now, I wish I had gone to my teacher every single day until I understood the information in order to get an A.
Fortunately, it didn't take me long to get my act together on the academic side, but I still wonder if I should have added more activities to my schedule. Maybe I should have joined more clubs, volunteered at more events, taken college classes somewhere, or ran a marathon!
While I wait, I've come up with two lists: Things for when I get in to my top choices and things for when I get rejected. The list for when I get in includes a long guest list and lots of party favors. I'll throw a theme party with the colors from my new college and I'll invite all of my friends from water polo, school and my neighborhood to celebrate. The list of things for when I get rejected has a lot of comfort food, good movies, bubbles, stickers and the number to my school to call in sick. Of course, I don't plan on using the second list; not just because I think I'm going to get in, but because even if I don't get into my first choice, I'm okay with my second, third and even my fourth choice. I did not apply to any schools I could not see myself going to. I even like the so-called "safety schools" that I think I have a good chance of getting into. Over the course of the next three months, I'll remind myself of that.
Once you hit submit, you can't make changes. Still, sometimes I'll catch myself thinking about another perfect essay topic, a more creative way to answer a prompt, or something else I should have included in the "Additional Information" section. I know that there is nothing else I can do. But as I stare at the green arrow, I wish I could hit "delete." I wish there was a "start over" button, not just for the application, but for parts of my high school career. Instead, there's only "Application Complete" next to the neon green arrow. Translation: "too late."