Eyes on the Prize!
At this time of year it’s not just Christmas presents you should be wrapping up, but also your college applications. Deadlines are looming and it is not advisable to leave it to the last minute to submit your applications. Ideally, if you are applying Regular Decision, you will have completed all the necessary forms and essays for each school, made the appropriate requests of your teachers and guidance counselors and will have sent off the completed packages to the admissions offices of your selected schools. If you’re not at this stage yet, you need to get busy and fire off your applications in before it is too late!
For the majority of U.S. universities, the deadline for submitting your application is January 1st, but this is not necessarily the same for all schools. Some schools set their own agenda that varies from the norm. Always check each school’s website to verify the deadlines and schedules. The last thing you want is to be rejected from your preferred school because you missed the deadline.
If you happen to be one of those students who is well organized and have already submitted your applications, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well-done, but don’t relax yet. You’ve only completed the first part of your job and there’s more work ahead if you want to get admitted to college. You will have to spend the next few months keeping an eye on your applications to make sure everything is in order and none of your documents go astray. I recently learned about a student who thought she had successfully completed the admissions process to a prestigious Miami school, having sent out the online application, only to find out later on that the school rejected her for not receiving all her supporting documents by the deadline. Her school had not sent out the required transcripts and recommendation letter, and since she did not double check with her school, she lost her chances to gain acceptance to the college in question. Schools do make mistakes, colleges sometimes misplace documents too, so it is up to you to make sure that not only have you sent the correct documentation but also that everyone else involved in your application process has sent out or received the requested documents.
After you have submitted your applications, you should receive electronic and/or written notification of receipt. At some point, maybe three weeks into the process, it is a good idea to email or phone the school’s admissions office just to confirm that they have all the correct documentation. Alternatively, many schools have a system where you can track your application status on-line. Without making a nuisance of yourself, keep an eye on your application until it is up for review. Colleges receive thousands of applications each year – Penn State already had eight containers full as early as November – so it is no surprise that occasionally one application goes missing. Don’t let it be yours!
Once you have confirmed that all your paperwork is in the correct hands and nothing is missing, you can prepare yourself for the arduous task of waiting. Most schools send out notification of acceptance or rejection to Regular Decision candidates somewhere around the first week of April. That means you have at least three full months of waiting to hear what your future holds for you. My advice is to keep busy and whatever you do don’t succumb to “senioritis”. Continue to work hard on your studies and make every day count rather than counting the days till you find out where you will study next. Soon enough, you’ll be heading for college and embarking in your next experience of a lifetime!