Application Anxiety


Musings on the waiting game.

Before I even started the application process for medical school, I was convinced that taking the MCAT would be the worst part.  After all, what could be worse than spending hours upon hours studying for a seven-hour test that would dictate where you may or may not be able to apply to medical school? Surely, after test day, I would have significantly less stress in my life, and all would be well in the world.

While the MCAT was in fact quite miserable, my stress did not go away.  Rather, it shifted to having to write my applications.  On top of my full-time summer job, cranking out my primary application, and a few weeks later, all twenty-five of my secondary applications seemed just as much of a grind as MCAT studying. I looked forward to the days when I would no longer have to do any work, and all that would be left to do was wait—wait for schools to invite me to interview, and hopefully, eventually, accept me.

As it turns out, waiting has been the worst part.  I check my email every two minutes, hoping that with each push of the “Refresh” button, my chances of getting a coveted email from an admissions committee will increase. With all of my applications submitted, there is literally nothing left for me to do except wait (and, as it seems, check my email). While OCS and my pre-med advisors had informed me about all the logistics of the application process, I was not prepared for the anxiety I would feel about no longer having control over the situation.  The ball is no longer in my court, as perhaps the athletically inclined would say.

The waiting game is not unique to the medical school application process, though. Those going through recruiting have also noted that waiting to hear back from the company of their dreams provokes a great deal of anxiety, especially when there is a chance that they may never hear back at all. When we have all worked so hard throughout college, actively doing things to achieve our goals little by little each day, it seems hard to believe that there is nothing left to do but wait to see if it all paid off.

But wait, we must. Since it is a given, we may as well enjoy the time spent waiting, right? Despite our apprehension and anxiety about what the future holds, we do have control over the present.  For us seniors, this is our last year to experience Harvard as college students.  I urge you to neglect your email inboxes and exit out of the Crimson Careers window—at least for a little while—and enjoy our last year as Harvard students. Regardless of what any admissions committee or recruiter says, we’ve earned it.

Caroline Gentile ’17 ( challenges those of you going through recruiting or grad school application processes to go one whole day without checking your email—or Crimson Careers.