General Education

You’ve Submitted Your College Applications. What Happens Next?

You’ve Submitted Your College Applications. What Happens Next?
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Jordan Friedman February 8, 2019

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So, you’ve submitted your college applications. Congratulations! This is certainly a big weight off of your shoulders – but keep in mind that the process isn’t over just yet.

There are several steps to take even after your applications are in. You will want to make sure all your materials have been received, your tours and interviews are scheduled and you are ready to make the big decision.

Don’t slack off: Even though you are almost done with high school and ready to move on to college, don’t take this to mean that you are completely off the hook from anything school-related. Even if you are applying early decision, keep in mind that many schools will still ask you for your first semester grades (and at the end of the academic year, your final transcript). Showing consistency and commitment is essential given that college admissions offers are contingent on you maintaining your grades. Schools can withdraw their letters of acceptance – and it does happen.

It’s similarly important to maintain your level of involvement in different clubs or student groups. You can always send resume updates, such as a new leadership positions, to the admissions office to let them know of your achievements.

Track the status of your application: Many schools will send you a link that will enable you to keep track of where your application is in the review process. Use this feature to ensure that your materials have been received. If they have not been processed after a certain date (the amount of time this takes will vary among schools), and you know you submitted everything you were supposed to, follow up with the admissions office.

Take time to visit and tour campuses: The period in between submitting a college application and hearing back from a school could be a good time to actually visit (or revisit) college campuses and get a sense of whether a school is the best option for you (if you get accepted).

According to The College Board, formal college visits typically consist of an information session and a campus tour, and you may be given the option to also attend a class, meet with a professor, spend a night in the campus dorms and attend a meeting for a student group that interests you. Usually, information on available tours and information sessions is available on a school’s website, or you can contact the admissions office for more information.

Prep for on-campus interviews: Some schools will require you to come to campus for interviews, and it is not uncommon for them to offer to pay for your travel expenses. As Alain-Philippe Durand writes for Inside Higher Ed, an admissions chair will typically allow finalists to choose the date of their interview. “When selecting the date,” he writes, “think about your own personal commitments, but think as well about the time you need to prepare.” If the company does not provide you with an itinerary, ask them for one.

The Princeton Review recommends that you prepare questions beforehand, practice “like a prizefighter” and send a thank-you note after the fact. In your letter, you can feel free to also mention a specific part of the interview that you found particularly memorable or helpful.

Consider financial aid and scholarships: Admissions expert Purvi Mody writes in the San Jose Mercury News that scholarship applications typically become available in the new year, but it’s never too early to start searching for additional sources of money to help fund your college education. You can talk to your career center or guidance counselor about your options. Keep in mind that many scholarships will require you to write additional essays.

You could also consider financial aid and learn more about your options on the Noodle site. Just remember to conduct research on your potential schools, sit down with your parents to discuss the process and stay on track. Again, it’s never too early to explore your options.

Respond to colleges: So you got some acceptance letters and some rejection letters. What happens now? Well, you usually have until May 1 to make a final choice and reserve your spot at the school. It’s essential that before then, you really sit down and examine your different options (social media is a great resource to use!) and compare your financial aid and scholarship offers. Ultimately, you should accept one – and only one – offer, after which you should notify admissions offices elsewhere that you have chosen not to accept their offer (but you would like to thank them anyway).

If you have been waitlisted from a school you still wish to attend, let them know of your interest. Update the school with any additional special achievements you have fulfilled or strong semester grades. It may be a good idea to also get an additional letter of recommendation from a teacher or another adult – such as a coach or administrator – who knows you particularly well, or write a follow-up letter to the college admissions office expressing your commitment and desire to enroll there. Keep in mind that only about 30 percent of all U.S. college applicants are accepted after remaining on a waitlist. But hey, you never know!


Campus Visits: Before You Go. (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2015, from The College Board

Chrysler, S. (2013, March 29). Retrieved July 20, 2015 from The New York Times

Durand, A. (2011, April 11). Prepping for the Campus Visit. Retrieved July 19, 2015, from Inside Higher Ed

How To Ace the College Interview. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2015 from The Princeton Review

Miners, Z. (2010, April 9). You’ve Been Put on the Wait List for College. Now What? Retrieved July 19, 2015 from U.S. News & World Report

Mody, P. (2012, November 26). On College: Things to do after submitting applications. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from San Jose Mercury News

Seniors: What To Do After You’ve Submitted Your College Applications. (2012). Retrieved July 19, 2015, from IvyWise


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