You’ve Applied To College — Now What Should You Do?
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The hard part is over. After months of visiting campuses and agonizing over college applications and essays, you’re ready to relax and wait for the acceptance letters to pour in… but should you really?
Just because you’ve applied to your list of dream schools doesn’t mean you can afford to sit around for the next few months. In fact, aspiring college freshmen still have numerous tasks on their to-do lists. From applying for financial aid to trusting in your own decision-making, here are some of the most important things to do after applying to college.
1. Fill Out Your FAFSA
Unless you’re among the lucky few who can afford to finance college all on their own, the odds are good that you’re planning to apply for federal aid. While waiting to hear back from your list of schools, consider getting started on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Also known as the FAFSA, this document is used by the federal and state governments to assess whether or not you’re eligible for loan and grant money to help you attend college. Additionally, many public and private colleges consider the FAFSA when evaluating whether a student qualifies for school funding.
To get started, visit the Federal Student Aid website to access and complete your free online FAFSA application. Submitting your application online helps expedite processing times. As a bonus, the site is designed to identify common errors that can slow down FAFSA processing and negatively impact a student’s ability to secure funding.
2. Keep Your Grades Up
Just because you finished applying to colleges doesn’t mean you can afford to let your grades slip. Elite colleges and universities are particularly concerned with applicants’ senior year grades, according to a blog by Cornell University alum and admissions employee Marina Wencelblat Fried.
In fact, there have been cases in which schools withdrew offers for students admitted to Early Decision or Early Action when they failed to keep their grades up. Can you imagine having to tell your parents, teachers, and peers that this happened to you? For best results, continue studying and working hard as you wait for those acceptance letters to arrive and even after they do. You won’t regret it.
3. Show Colleges You’re Engaged
Every spring, admissions officials have to wade through a sea of qualified applicants, and every year they look for reasons to say no. To ensure your applications doesn’t end up in the circular file, make an effort to stay engaged with your schools of choice.
One of the best ways to show colleges you care is by visiting the campus. Be sure to check in with the admissions office so the school knows you’re stopping by for the day. According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, 70 percent of colleges revealed that demonstrating interest was a factor in admissions decisions.
Don’t have the time (or money) to visit your dream school in person? See if the college you’re considering offers alumni interviews in your area and make an effort to speak to recruiters at college fairs and other events. Taking these steps will go a long way toward demonstrating your passion for the school and what it offers.
4. Trust in Your School Selections
According to a recent article, aspiring college students can choose from more than 3,000 institutions of higher education across the United States. However, experts advice that each student apply to between four and eight schools. Talk about pressure!
With so many options at your disposal, you might be tempted to reconsider your first choices after emailing out those application packages. Some students even opt to send out additional applications to ensure they get accepted somewhere.
While it’s natural to wonder if you made the right decisions at this high-stress time, most experts recommend against sending out last-minute applications to so-called safety schools. Even if admissions are still open at the school in question, applying last-minute may convey a sense of desperation or (worse) a lack of genuine interest in the institution. If a college doubts your sincerity, it’s unlikely to invite you to matriculate. So, you’re effectively wasting both time and money.
Avoid doubting yourself and your college choices. You thought long and hard about your school selections, so have faith in your decision-making ability.
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