Your College Applications are In—What Now?
Phew! You never thought you’d finish, but you did it and your college applications are finally in. Now, it’s all up to those all-knowing and all-powerful admissions officers. I hope you are savoring that wonderful feeling of relief that comes with the last submission. You deserve it. But don’t put away those user names and passwords quite yet. Many colleges allow students to check the status of an application by logging into their portal. Don’t panic if you are notified that your application is incomplete. In all likelihood, those supposedly missing document is somewhere in their system, and just haven’t been linked to your application. With the deluge of documents an admissions office receives, it often takes several weeks for the staff to get everything logged in. Still, you should check on any “missing” item with a friendly phone call or letter to whomever should have sent it.
Much of the next stage in the college admissions process is the nail-biting waiting game. Applicants across the United States are hoping that this is the day their friendly neighborhood postman will deliver those letters informing them of their college fate. Nevertheless, there are still some things you can and should do now that your applications are in. Your application is not caste in stone. Most colleges are receptive to and appreciate receiving pertinent additional information. Don’t hesitate to notify schools of any new honors, awards, or special achievements. You also need to make sure that your senior grades and any additional test scores have been sent. If you’ve progressed academically since you submitted your application, let the schools know about it.
With that said, using more aggressive strategies with admissions offices such as phone calls and letters to remind them of your overwhelming interest in the school often backfires. There is a point where students can go overboard, and such efforts tend to be ignored, our even worse. Just like in a courtship, you have to know when enough is enough.
So what can you do? Certainly, there are ways to demonstrate your interest that will also help you make an informed decision on whether to attend that school. For example, you may want to visit the school again, arrange to meet faculty members in your areas of interest, sit in on classes, or attend regional events that the school may be hosting. If you’re revisiting the school, there is nothing wrong with sending a letter explaining why that visit helped you confirm that the school was a good fit. To be clear, while a demonstrated interest and enthusiasm for a school can be a factor in admissions, especially with schools that are not highly selective, these displays of interest is not a substitute for your academic record, test scores, or other core criteria used to evaluate your application.
Should I apply for housing prior to acceptance? Usually, that would be considered premature, and the general rule is wait until acceptance before applying for housing. However, some schools do allow students to submit a preliminary housing application as soon as they apply. This can be especially important at colleges that do not guarantee housing for freshmen. If you want to have the best chance of getting your preferred housing choice, apply for housing as soon as the school allows you to do so.
Finally, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should be completed as soon as possible. The deadline for 2017-18 FASA is June 30, 2018. However, funds are limited and the earlier you apply, the better. For the 2017-18 FASFA, you can file the application NOW. The FAFSA submission date has been permanently changed to October 1 every year instead of January 1. Also, you can now report earlier family income information so as to not delay filing. For 2017-18 FASFA, for example, you can now use your income and tax information from 2015 instead of 2016. You can find comprehensive financial aid and scholarship information at www.finaid.org, and you can complete the FAFSA at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. Many private colleges require the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA, and you can access that form through the College Board site.