What to Expect in Application Limbo

The application process is a grueling one, full of essays, essay rewrites, insecurity and even more essay rewrites. But at the end of it, you get to press that beautiful Submit button and feel a sense of accomplishment as you watch the digital confetti rain down on you.

Now you are entering an entirely new territory, let's call it “application limbo,” where all you can do is wait until spring for colleges to get back to you—and panic in the meantime. Fun.

Though I’m a thriving UC Davis undergrad now, it wasn’t very many years ago that I was in application limbo myself. So that is why I’ve brought together some current students, alumni and UCD staff to give you some of the best advice for surviving this period in your college process, for the low, low price of free!


Kalah Bateman ‘24


"Take a load off, take time for self care and don't stress yourself out too much over the process. Everything happens for a reason, and wherever you get accepted is for a reason."


Robert Penman

Executive Director, Undergraduate Admissions

Take advantage of this slow period to recharge your batteries so you can finish your last semester strong. But don’t forget to check your email in case we have any questions for you.


Esmeralda Calderon ‘07

B.S. Animal Science

Just keep doing the great job you are doing. Stay busy, stay proactive, keep doing good in school. Keep volunteering. Research anything and everything about each school you applied to. Participate in webinars and information sessions, prepare yourself and anticipate what you will need in order to start college. Take lots of photos of your close family and friends to bring with you. Finally, organize yourself, gather your comfortable walking shoes and be ready to succeed!


Hannah Bireschi ‘22

Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning 

"Take the time to truly enjoy your last year of high school. Senior year is such a fun time, filled with ‘lasts’ and ‘firsts,’ and it’s important to experience as many of those as you can while you have the time!"


Jacquelyn Ross

Assistant Director, Undergraduate Admissions

Spend time chasing down outside scholarship support. Also, make sure that you know the basics: how often your family and friends expect communication, how to do your laundry, how to make a medical appointment, how to cook a couple of great meals and how to budget.


Alexander Torres ‘22

Sociology (Organizational Studies) and International Relations 

"I think a lot of us get so caught up in our next stones to step on that we forget we still have a childhood to finish, that last sport season to play or even a last year of the club to experience. While the decisions feel like this gravitational force pulling in your attention, I think it’s important to remind yourself to stay present and experience the now. Whatever is in store, it is going to be great. So let yourself be happy at every step, from the waiting to the day you get that letter. No decision determines your worth, but the decisions you make now will guide your journey as a human toward something great!"


Joe Lapp

Marketing Specialist

"Two suggestions, especially for first generation students. One, connect with a couple adults who have gone to graduate school and ask them about their experience. Two, start thinking about summer internships that would complement your major. As a first generation college student back in the day, I didn’t know enough about these opportunities to take advantage of them. They can both be foundational for your future career!"


Devon Bohart ‘15

B.A. Communication, and Managerial Economics

BREATHE! The waiting is hard, but this is the time to practice self-care. As decisions roll in, you might have some tough choices to make, so enjoy the time you have to unwind until that happens.


Teddi Tostanoski

Social Media Manager

"Spend some time digging and following the schools you've applied to on social media, because that's a great way to check if you align with the culture of the school even before being accepted. Here at UC Davis, we've got our top 10 things you can do while you wait for your app decision!"


All in All

Application limbo is scary but manageable. So breathe, spend time with family and friends, and hope for the best.

When I was waiting for admission notices, I spent way too much time worrying about everything that was out of my control and too little time focusing on all the fun things happening around me. Worrying and fretting only made the time tick by way, way slower. So have fun, and take care of yourself.

Right now, you are in a transition period which seems scary but is actually a great thing. Focus on the next step, like applying for financial aid. Enjoy this time and focus on what you can control instead of worrying if the admissions board got your jokes. (They did, by the way.)


Abigail Loomis is an international relations major from Placerville, California, who applied to 10 colleges and 9 scholarships in her senior year of high school. (For her insights from this process, see her earlier post, “The College Application Survival Guide.”) She now happily spends her time hanging out with the Eggheads on the UCD campus.


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