waiting at the computer

Despite thinking that the hardest part of the application process would be the actual application, for many families the waiting game can feel just as unnerving. Sitting on your hands during the months of January through March can feel like an eternity. Here are some things you can and should be doing while you await decisions from admissions offices.

  • Write thank you notes or emails (not texts!) to your teachers and school counselor for writing your letters of recommendation
  • Make sure colleges where you were deferred know you are still interested (if you are). The best advice here is to be brief and reach out once so they know you are interested. More is not better here. If they are your first choice college, feel free to say as much. Call any school where you were deferred and are no longer interested and withdraw your application.
  • Continue getting to know your schools by following them on social media, exploring their websites, talking to alums you know about their experience, etc.
  • Prepare for your regular decision interviews, if any, and send a thoughtful thank you note to your interviewer once completed
  • Keep studying! All colleges and universities will require a final transcript to be submitted before a student is allowed to officially enroll. A little senioritis is fine. A lot will potentially find you starting your freshman year already on academic probation.
  • Do not wait to be admitted before applying for financial aid. Financial aid application deadlines for Regular Decision candidates can come up any time between January and March, and if you wait until you’ve received your acceptance, you’ve likely already missed your financial aid application deadline.  If you believe you’ve applied for aid already, be sure to log into each college’s applicant portal to ensure your financial aid application is complete.
  • Apply for private scholarships. Check in with your high school counseling office and/or log into your school’s college planning software to look for local, community-based scholarships. Also, create a profile on a national scholarship search site such as scholarships.com to track down additional scholarships for which you might be a good fit.
  • Prepare yourself for disappointment; surprise yourself with celebration. It’s not easy getting rejected, and for many students this will be the first time they’ve been told “no.” So now is a good time to be positive about all of their potential options, and to keep in mind that bad news this spring doesn’t negate all of the wonderful work they’ve done in high school. It just means college admissions is as unpredictable as ever. Getting waitlisted or rejected is part of the process for nearly all students.
  • Remember, our children learn how to face rejection with grace and dignity by watching how their parents react to it. Make sure you’re thoughtful about the example you set should a rejection or waitlist letter find itself in your mailbox.
  • Enjoy being a senior! Keep studying, but have fun!

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Written by Karen Spencer
Karen Spencer is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Karen previously worked as a senior admissions officer at Georgetown University and Franklin & Marshall College. Visit our website to learn more about Karen Spencer.