February 21st, 2013, 11:30am, Topics: college admissions, seniors, waiting, wait list, empower yourself, fafsa, financial aid, merit scholarships
By now you’re either in or you’re waiting.
If you’ve been admitted already, congratulations! Make sure that if you were admitted under an early decision plan, you have sent your deposit to secure your spot and notified the other colleges to which you have applied to withdraw your applications.
If you’re waiting for your decisions, it may feel like an excruciatingly long wait. While you can’t accelerate the process or decide where to go until they decide if you’re in, you can take some steps to show that you’re proactive, and to empower yourself along the way.
Seniors, here is your college admissions checklist for February:
Finish the Fafsa and Other Financial Aid Forms
If you are seeking financial aid, make sure you are in the process of completing the Free Application for Financial Aid (also known as the Fafsa), and the CSS (College Scholarship Service) Profile, or any additional financial aid forms required by your prospective schools. Many deadlines are in February.
It literally pays to be vigilant about researching and applying for scholarships. Check your schools’ listings, which come trickling in throughout the winter and spring. If your school uses the college counseling software program Naviance, use it to search for scholarships.
If you have applied to schools that offer merit scholarships and the deadlines haven’t yet passed, get on it!
If you are unsure of how and where to find scholarship information, ask your guidance or college counselor.
Stay in Touch
Colleges are businesses, and they want to admit students who are likely to matriculate. Admissions officers are betting that these are the students who have visited campus, interviewed when possible and been in contact with admissions.
E-mail your regional admissions representatives at each of the colleges that have yet to issue you a decision. (If you’re not sure who you should be e-mailing, most colleges’ admissions Web sites list their staff members by region.)
Demonstrating interest can tip the scales toward admission if you are a borderline candidate. Wish the admissions officers a happy new year, tell them your midyear grades were sent, and ask them if there is anything (else) you can do to bolster your candidacy. Be sure to update them on any new academic accolades.
If financial aid is not a factor, and you have a top-choice school, consider writing to the admissions representative at this school to let him or her know that you will matriculate if admitted. (Only do this if you intend to follow through; sacrificing your integrity to get ahead will only set you back.)
Thank Your Advocates
If you haven’t already, thank your college counselor and your teachers for writing your letters of recommendation, and for supporting you throughout this process.
Maintain Your Momentum
Stay engaged in the classroom and keep up your grades. All colleges require final transcripts to be sent after graduation. If you are wait-listed, good grades can make a compelling case to get you off the wait list.
If your grades took a nose-dive first semester (maybe you had appendicitis and were forced to miss a week of school) work your tail off this month, then ask your counselor to send positive comments along with a current grade from the teachers whose classes you struggled in first semester.
Keep perspective. Far more important than where you go to school is what you do while you’re there, and most anyone will tell you that there is more than one school at which you can thrive.
While the admissions process is not one you can control, your college experience will be what you make of it; you are responsible for what you do during your time in college.
Regardless of the outcomes of your college decisions — whether you are elated or crestfallen — it may help to invoke the message in William Ernest Henley’s poem “Invictus”:
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.