So you built an awesome (and balanced!) college list. You worked on essays before school started! You applied to a few schools before the Early Action (or Early Decision – what’s the difference again?) deadline. NOW WHAT?
Check your e-mail, and open your portals.
After you submit your college applications, you need to keep an eye on your e-mail inbox. Colleges communicate with you by e-mail! They will probably send you a message asking you to set up a portal on their website, so they can let you know if something is missing from your application, and/or if they have everything they need. The message will probably contain a PIN or some special code you’ll need to set up your portal, plus a link to set it up. It will probably look something like the image to the right.
Colleges can see when you set up your portal! And they take that as an indication of how interested you are in them. Would you want to invite someone into your community whose actions show they don’t really care about you? Probably not. So you really need to keep an eye on your inbox, and set up your portal as soon as they show you how to do it.
Once you’re into the portal, there may be a checklist right there in front of you, like the next image below. Or you may have to click around to find the Admissions space, or there may be a “To Do” list set up for you.
If the checklist tells you something is missing – DON’T FREAK OUT! Sometimes it takes colleges (especially those that receive thousands or tens of thousands of applications) a few days (or even a few weeks!) to connect all of the documents they have with the correct applicant file. So just because it says your counselor recommendation hasn’t been received doesn’t mean your counselor hasn’t sent it yet! It’s ok for you to double check (with a big smile on your face) and make sure to thank your counselor after you ask if s/he has submitted your recommendation.
Submit your FAFSA.
Colleges can only start the process of preparing your financial aid offer after you have submitted the FAFSA. Most colleges would prefer that you submit the FAFSA (and some require the CSS Profile as well) by the application deadline; for some it’s fine for you to submit later. Check with each college on your list to see what exactly they want from you, and when. And if you need a refresher on how college financial aid works, this is a good place to start.
Keep your grades up.
Many colleges will ask your school to send your mid-year grades, especially if you are applying Regular Decision (as opposed to any of the Early options). You’ll need to show you are finishing out high school strong! Don’t let senioritis creep in quite yet. In fact – some colleges will actually rescind your offer of admission – which are always conditional – if you let your grades slip to a level that is below how you’ve performed in past years.
Celebrate your acceptances!
You’ve put so much effort into your college admission journey – all of the research, all of the essays. It’s time to bask in the glory and pat yourself on the back! You’ve already determined that every college on your list could be a good place for you, so celebrate when each and every admit letter arrives. Congrats!