As Chris Kawakita mentioned in the previous post, applicants will receive decisions from colleges at various times—even as late as April. Your mailbox is sure to be exhausted from the workout it will receive over the next few months, and as you may have already learned, the Waiting Game isn’t always as fun as its name would imply.
But the time between submitting applications and discovering those exciting packets in the mail doesn’t have to be all about waiting. There’s plenty you can do to advance your college search process and enhance your chances of admission.
Schedule college visits. Are there any colleges to which you’ve applied that you haven’t had the chance to visit yet? It’s always important to get a firsthand look at the school where you might be spending your next four years. Plus, at some selective schools, a formal visit plays an important role in the admissions process. By visiting now, you can get a better sense of your top college choices as the calendar approaches spring, aka Decision Time.
Inform your college choices about recent achievements. Were you recently elected president of a club at school? Did you increase your ACT score but forget to send it to all of your colleges? Did you set a personal record for brownies eaten in one sitting? (Actually, we don’t need to know about that one.)
You may not be able to update your application on your own, but you are welcome to call or email your designated admissions counselor at each college to which you applied with those updates. By the way, don’t hesitate to make more significant changes as well, such as your desired major—most colleges are more than happy to make updates to your application.
Finish up the semester well. Chris outlined this earlier: You might figure that once you’ve hit “submit” on your application that your ongoing high school courses won’t much matter, but some of your colleges might play a Waiting Game of their own—that is, they may wait to make a final decision until they can see how you performed in your seventh semester of high school. In this case, your seventh semester might even be the most important one of all.
Begin the financial aid process. The main financial aid form—the FAFSA—cannot be filed until after January 1, but you and your parents can begin to get some of the necessary financial documents and information in order. You can also utilize financial aid calculators on various sites or on individual schools’ websites in order to get a sense of how much need-based aid you might receive. Some colleges also accept or require the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA, and this can be submitted prior to January 1.
Stay in touch with your admissions counselors. Even if you have already visited a college and don’t have any recent achievements to mention, staying in touch with your designated counselors can indicate a level of interest that admissions offices love to see. It’s always a good idea to confirm that all of your application materials have arrived, and feel free to ask your counselor if there’s anything else you can/should be doing in order to maximize your chances of admission.