The elation of clicking “submit”. The relief that soon follows. The celebration with family and friends that after a very long fall senior semester, you’ve FINALLY finished your college applications. And what a feat this is! The college application process begins long before senior year. For many of you, it’s been a years-long process. And now the time has finally come when your eggs are in your respective baskets. But now what?
Now, what is a question commonly posed by students after they submit their applications, and it makes sense to ask! The feeling of constantly working on application tasks is suddenly gone, and it might feel weird. Or the anxiety of awaiting a decision creeps in soon after the excitement of applying wears off. What should I be doing now? What can I keep up with? Should I be working on other things? In short, there are tasks that students should absolutely be doing, but rest assured most of the grueling work is behind you.
Let’s break it down.
First, take a deep breath and allow yourself to take a mental health break. It’s been a very intense few years. Allow yourself to hold onto all the positive feelings associated with the milestone of applying to college. Take some more deep breaths.
Second, focus on your academics and extracurricular activities. Colleges want to see students maintain their grades even after they apply to college. Colleges will periodically receive progress reports throughout senior year on how you’re performing in school. Colleges might revoke an acceptance if they see your grades slipping. You must continue to put in an effort! Put that feeling of “what now” into your classes, your activities, and keep working hard!
Third, check and read your email for the next few months. Email is the primary way in which most colleges will communicate with you about alerts, events for prospective students (that you should strongly consider attending!), additional materials that may need to be sent to your colleges, and most importantly, admissions decisions. You may also have to create “application portals” for individual colleges to track the above information, which might require you to create a username and password.
In fact, fourth, create a safe place to store usernames and passwords for these portals and check them regularly. Especially as admission decisions come in over the next few months.
Fifth, apply for financial aid via the FAFSA if you haven’t already. Additionally, research and apply for scholarships. Scholarships can be obtained in other ways, aside from the traditional merit-based scholarship or financial aid packages offered by colleges themselves. CollegeBoard posts scholarship opportunities for seniors, as well as www.fastweb.org and https://myscholly.com/. These resources are free and sometimes require minimal effort to apply.
Sixth, start making summer plans! It sounds funny to think about summer in the middle of the winter, but fill your summer before college with meaningful activities. Spend time with friends and family, travel if you can, attend freshman orientation at the college you’ve eventually chosen, submit your housing deposit and connect with your future roommate. Before you know it, it’ll be August and you’ll be starting your first day as a college freshman!
Finally, seventh, thank your recommenders again and reach out to your college counselor as decisions come in. Consider scheduling time with them if you need support in making a college selection. Emotions can run high with the long-awaited ‘decisions’, and this can be a big family choice! You generally have until May 1st to make a final decision but don’t wait until after, or you might lose your admissions spot.