High school seniors rejoice; the months of meticulously crafting your college applications are finally over. First of all, we want to congratulate everyone who got their applications in, are waiting on a decision, and have already received news. Pat yourselves on the back for a job well done and entertain yourself by binge watching some Netflix. But just because you’re done with your college applications does not mean that it’s over! There are still things that you should make sure you do!
1) Make sure you fill out the FAFSA
The FAFSA is the American government’s way to determine your eligibility for financial aid from the federal government. Even if you think you may not be eligible for any type of financial assistance, it never hurts to check! Check with your school to see when the deadline to file is.
2) Determine whether you may have to fill out the CSS Profile
Some schools require an additional document called the CSS Profile to determine financial aid eligibility. The CSS profile takes more into account than FAFSA pertaining to your financial situation, so it’s important to fill it out if your school uses it. Even if you don’t qualify for FAFSA aid, you might still qualify under the CSS.
3) Call to make sure all paperwork has been received
Even though you think that all of your transcripts, test-scores, and recommendations have been received, sometimes the documentation can get ‘lost’ in the system, even if it’s something sent electronically. Contact the Admissions Departments and ask to make sure they’ve received everything!
4) Research and apply for local scholarships
Scholarships given by nonprofits or religious organizations in your city/county generally have less competition than national scholarships. To find some, just Google your ‘city name’ plus ‘scholarships,’ for example: “Cleveland scholarships” or “Seattle church scholarships.”
5) Thank your guidance counselors and anyone who has helped you
People are busy. Most likely, they took the time out of their day (even if it’s their job to help!) to thoroughly edit your essays and help you through the process. Even if someone only helped you once, it’s still polite convention to send them a text or email to thank them.
6) Send an “update” email to the admissions department.
Remember the concept of “demonstrated interest”? That doesn’t have to end at the time that you submit your application. You can email the admissions department a brief email introducing yourself, saying that you’ve applied, and that you’d like to update something on your application. For example, you can say something like “I no longer am the Secretary of the Environmental Club, but I’m now interning 15 hours a week with a nonprofit specializing in environmental education.” Or, “I was not actually able to take AP Calculus this semester as I previously said on my application, but I am taking two classes in Economics and Sociology at my local community college.” A lot can change in a month!
7) Keep your senior grades up.
You might think that once you get an acceptance you can coast through the remainder of the year. While some of the pressure is indeed off, it’s important to guard against any significant drops in your academic performance. Some colleges rescind their acceptances if a student’s academic performance has severely dropped.
8) Contact your school’s disability services if applicable.
If there’s even a slight chance that you think you may need accommodations in college, you should contact the disability services office and think about getting registered if you know what college you’ll be attending. Disability services is there to support you, and even if you never use your accommodations, having that additional support as a fallback can definitely be a huge relief. Disability services can even guide you through the process of getting a formal diagnosis if you don’t have one. Possible accommodations include a scribe or note-taker for those with difficulty writing, a reduced distraction room or ability to leave the room for those with learning disabilities or mental illness, and alternative seating for those who use mobility aids. Of course, each college has a different procedure and range of options, so consult the disability office for the final word.
9) Don’t take rejection as a personal insult
Admissions decisions often don’t make sense. People can get into Columbia University but not get into their state’s flagship universities (like Ohio State or Michigan State University). Often, a person can get into a school with a lower acceptance rate, but rejected from one with a higher acceptance rate. Don’t take it personally because admissions works in mysterious ways!