December 26, 2012, 2:05pm, Topics: college admissions, applications, application submission, standardized test scores, teacher recommendations, counselor, financial aid, after submission
If you're still waiting to push the “submit” button on the last of your college applications, stop reading. You need to put 100 percent of your effort into completing the job—preferably before the holidays.
But if you’re in the enviable position of having finished all your applications, congratulations! Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.
Just don’t get too comfortable yet. In the words of Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.” You need to keep the ball rolling by taking a few next steps:
1. Check in with teachers who agreed to write letters of recommendation on your behalf to confirm they have been submitted. A hand-written thank-you note might help underscore how much you appreciate the support.
2. Make sure your standardized test scores have been sent from the appropriate testing agency to colleges requiring scores.
3. If you submitted applications electronically, review your “receipts” and confirm that the application, supplement(s), and payment were all sent. These are separate processes, and you are responsible for their completion.
4. Check with your guidance counselor and/or the school transcript clerk to make sure that transcripts and secondary school reports have been submitted. Again, a nice thank-you note would certainly be appreciated by all involved.
5. If you applied early to a school requiring a CSS PROFILE for financial aid consideration, verify that your parents have completed and sent all required information.
6. Double check that materials necessary for school-based merit scholarships or honors programs have been completed and sent.
7. Regularly review email and telephone messages. You may get requests for interviews or for follow-up information to which you should promptly respond.
8. If you have been provided with a special log-in to check the status of your application, do so. And do it frequently. This is the best way to know if all elements of your application have been received.
9. Consider updating colleges on important information like outstanding senior year grades or any new memberships, awards, and accomplishments occurring after you submitted your application. This is a one-time opening. Don’t abuse the privilege by sending daily updates.
10. Begin thinking about federal financial aid. If you haven’t already, get your PIN number on the FAFSA website. You won’t be able to apply until after January 1st, but it’s good to have a head start on the process.
11. While you’re thinking about financial aid, start exploring outside scholarship competitions. Check in with FastWeb or Cappex to see what’s still out there and how you may qualify. And note that some of those essays you wrote for colleges may be recycled for scholarship applications.
12. Follow-up with the admissions office if you are concerned about the status of your application or if something seems amiss. Don’t call for a little insider information—you won’t get an admissions decision over the phone.
13. And most importantly, keep focused on your school work. Declining grades will hurt if you are deferred from early admission or wait listed later in the game. And improved grades may qualify you for additional financial support or at least give you an argument for larger merit-based aid.
If feasible, you might consider revisiting top colleges on your list. See a basketball game, go to an exhibit, attend a performance, have lunch, or even take another tour. Now that the paperwork is complete, a second look may help clarify your thinking and signal to colleges your strong interest.
And stay connected. Colleges are investing heavily in online media and like to think students are benefiting from all the effort. Facebook, Twitter, and staff or student blogs will help you keep in touch as your application wends its way through the process.