Hitting the submit button on your college applications typically leads to feelings of great accomplishment and relief. However, before you put your feet up and relax, you need to make sure you’ve taken care of a few key items to solidify the process.
It’s crucial to review each college’s website so that you know exactly what else needs to be submitted to complete your “application file”. Here’s an overview of what to do after you submit a college application to ensure you’re on the right track.
Step 1 – Send Your Official Transcripts
Official transcripts must be sent from your high school to each college you are applying to. This may be done electronically through a transcript service such as parchment or manually through your school’s counseling office.
Check with your high school counselor if you’re not sure what to do.
Step 2 – Send Your Standardized Test Scores
Standardized test scores are often required for college admissions. If you didn’t already have your SAT or ACT scores sent to these colleges when you took the test, you will need to have your scores sent by logging into your ACT dashboard or college board (SAT) account and making the requests.
Some colleges are going “test-optional”, which means it will be your choice whether to send scores or not. A good rule of thumb regarding test-optional schools is to consider whether the test scores will enhance your application or not. Even test-optional schools will sometimes use standardized test scores when awarding scholarships.
Step 3 – Submit Any Required Essays Or Letters Of Recommendations
Some colleges, especially private schools, also require essays and/or letters of recommendation. If these items are optional, consider your admission potential at each of the institutions. A well-crafted essay and/or a strong letter of recommendation could mean the difference between acceptance and rejection.
Step 4 – Apply For Financial Aid
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opens up on October 1st each year and should be completed as soon as possible each fall here. In addition, students should research scholarship opportunities for each college they applied to and submit those applications by their priority deadlines.
Colleges expect that you will apply to multiple schools and will also apply for scholarships at each of those schools. Thus, if you are awarded a scholarship at a college you don’t choose, you can politely decline it later on.
Step 5 – Look Into Housing Options
If you plan to live on campus in college, it’s important to look into housing once applications have been sent. Housing deposits can often be placed at multiple schools and should be considered if on-campus housing is limited.
Pay attention to housing deposit deadlines so you know when to request a refund once you’ve made your decision. Many colleges give you until early March to make your decision and will refund your deposit if you end up going elsewhere to school as long as you notify them before the deadline.
Step 6 – Check Your E-Mail
Finally, check your email frequently and if the colleges have admissions portals, check those as well. Colleges typically send admissions offers via email and regular postal mail. It is imperative that you monitor both, read any correspondence you receive carefully and follow all instructions colleges provide to turn your college dreams into concrete plans for your future.