Feature image from aliciavannoycall.blogspot.com


After a whole season of brainstorming, drafting, and re-writing essays, hitting the “submit” button on the Common App can feel like an act of liberation. Afterwards, however, the full realization of what’s to come in the months ahead may induce panic, anxiety, and general sadness.

How you probably feel right now (playbuzz.com)

How you probably feel right now (playbuzz.com)

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Relax. You will be ok.

The months of January to April can feel downright torturous for high school seniors waiting for college decisions. However, by coming up with a plan to best utilize this time, you may find that it will actually pass by rather quickly.



A common trend for second semester seniors is to quit the activities that they view as “unimportant” now that they have already submitted applications. I’ve seen people quit softball, volunteer work, and even drop off the face of the earth in the organizations they’re supposed to be in charge of.

They were probably like this kitty, except less cute (chronicallycourtney.com)

They were probably like this kitty, except less cute (chronicallycourtney.com)

Remember that college applications and results are milestones in the process of education and growing up, not the end of the line. Don’t give up on the experiences that make you happy! Oftentimes, it is during senior year that people set new records and achieve more in their activities.



During my second semester senior year, I decided to compete in drum major solo competitions again. I was the only senior from the team to ever have done so, for good reason. The competitions consume a huge amount of time and require enormous effort, preparation, and stress. Our coaches also really like to win, so if I brought shame to the school name, they would never let me hear the end of it.

My face whenever they start talking about winning, winning, and winning (gifwave.com)

My face whenever they start talking about winning, winning, and winning (gifwave.com)

That’s why seniors opt to “coach” the younger drum majors for their competitions and bask in the relief that they’ve finally escaped rather than voluntarily compete again.



I like to challenge myself, so not only did I sign up for all three events and the championship, I chose to compete in Field Conducting, a category no one from our school has ever done. Our school focuses on mace, and we have just basic trainings in conducting from our coaches, whose expertise in the field is limited as well.

How I felt when I started trying to figure out all the rules, finding music, memorizing cues, incorporating style...(feedyoursoul.com)

How I felt when I started trying to figure out all the rules, finding music, memorizing cues, incorporating style…(feedyoursoul.com)

My reasoning was simple: in college, bands generally don’t do parades, so drum majors usually only practice conducting. If I wanted to join band in college and audition, it would be best to gain some experience now. Also, competitions would take my mind off of college decisions, and their timing matched the period when results would be released, thus making time pass by quicker.

By taking on this venture, I would be killing two birds with one stone. Plus, I had always loved watching videos of Field Conducting competitions and it looked really cool.



I wasn’t alone in utilizing the semester for engaging experiences. Though my co-drum major didn’t compete for band, he continued his passion in robotics and CS, and I kept hearing about projects that he continued to partake in. One of my friends invested her time into self-studying APs for college credit and applying to summer programs. One classmate got really into a stock market game for Econ, and actually explored investing real stocks. There are many ways to find productive activities to make the most of the time.

You too can be this productive (UCRoad.com)

You too can be this productive (UCRoad.com)

Despite facing the doubts of my coaches and teammates and figuring out everything through my own means, I somehow became the Field Conducting I Champion for Northern California. My preoccupation with this venture made waiting for college results a lot easier, and the surprise success in competition boosted my happiness and mental capacity for potential rejection.



I know that now, it may be very difficult for you to believe that time will pass by quickly. But with the right plan of action, you can make this time a lot easier and more rewarding by continuing to pursue your passions and interests. Best of luck to all of you in the months to come!

Sara Tsai

Sara is part of the Class of 2020 at UC Berkeley, intending to double major in Business Administration and Interdisciplinary Studies. As a graduate of Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, CA, she is well-accustomed to the boba scene in the Bay Area, and her favorite toppings include pandan noodles, red tapioca, and lychee jelly. In high school, she was the 4'10'' "tiny but mighty" drum major of the marching band and best known for her penguin drawings.