This week we welcome Communications Manager of Strategy and Enrollment Planning (and former Assistant Director of Admission) Becky Tankersley back to the blog. Welcome, Becky!
If you’re a high school senior, you’ve likely submitted at least one college application by now (or you will be soon, right?). As I review our blog posts over the past year, I see we’ve covered a lot of ground. We’ve talked about writing your long essay… writing your supplemental essay… building your activity list… what to ask during your campus visit… what to do when the answer you hoped to hear turns into a “no”… and tips for parents to consider along the way.
What seems to be missing is this: what do you do AFTER you’ve submitted your application? A lot of focus is placed on the process of visiting, applying, and choosing your best college match. But there’s a good bit of time between the moment you submit your application and when you receive an actual decision.
What happens in the gap? Here are some ways you can make the best use of the newfound time you suddenly have on your hands.
Check your email and/or applicant portal. Once your application is in, be sure to check your email and applicant portal (if applicable) to monitor the status of your application and additional materials needed. Please note: IF YOU HAVE ALREADY ASKED YOUR SCHOOL COUNSELOR TO SUBMIT INFORMATION and it hasn’t appeared in your checklist yet, be patient! Many colleges have separate deadlines for students and school counselors to submit information. For example, at Tech our early application deadline is October 15. The document deadline (the deadline for documentation such as transcripts, recommendations, etc. to arrive) is November 15. We realize it takes time for counselors to gather and submit information for multiple students. So, please don’t panic if something is missing! If you’ve made the request, give it some time.
Not only does it take your counselor time to send in your information, but it also takes time for us on the college side to receive, process, and tie your documents to your application. If something is still missing after a bit of time, check back in to see if your documents are in the queue. But by all means do not become rude or pushy! School counselors don’t like that… and (hint) admission staffers don’t either.
Also, be aware there may be times your application is marked as complete, then after your documents are reviewed by the admission committee, your application once again becomes incomplete. You may be asked to submit more information. This is why it’s critical to check your portal every week or so. A potential change in your application status is also why you need to OPEN AND READ the emails you receive from colleges where you’ve applied. We get it—we know you get a ton of emails from a lot of colleges! But if you read nothing else, at least read the messages from schools where you have an active application on file. Emails from those schools are timely and can impact whether or not you receive an admission decision on time.
Start applying for financial aid. Now that your admission applications are in (or will be soon!), it’s time to apply for financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is free and available now! While this form has become somewhat simpler over the years, it’s still not an easy form to complete. Give yourself, and your parents, time to complete this important document if you want to be considered for Federal or need-based aid.
Similar to your admission application, financial aid offices also track your documents as they arrive. If you are selected for verification you could be asked to provide additional information, so be sure to allow enough time to fully complete this process ahead of the financial aid deadlines each school has set (hint – our priority deadline at Tech is Jan. 31).
Beyond the FAFSA, each school may have its own financial aid forms to complete. Be sure to check the financial aid websites of the schools where you’ve applied and get started on this important information sooner rather than later.
Hurry up and wait. The last thing to do is… wait. And wait well. Life doesn’t stop while you’re waiting for an admission decision. Sitting around and worrying isn’t going to benefit anyone, especially you! Write a thank you note to everyone who has helped you in this process (e.g. school counselors, letter of recommendation writers, and anyone else who has served as a mentor to you). Lead a project at school, help a friend, spend time with your family, and of course keep studying and working hard in class. Be active and grow where you’re planted.
Right now, in this moment, actually BE where you are instead of worrying about where you will be in a few months. Rest easy in knowing you’ve done your part (assuming you’re checking your email!) and give it time.
Easier said than done, but trust me, practicing that now will help keep your blood pressure down in the future.
Becky Tankersley has worked in higher education for more than 10 years. She joined Georgia Tech in 2012 after working at a small, private college in Northeast Tennessee. Prior to working in higher education, she worked as a television news producer. Her current role blends her skills in college recruitment and communication. Becky is the editor of the GT Admission Blog, and also serves as a Content Coordinator for the American Association of Collegiate Registrar and Admission Officers.
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