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3 Steps You Should Take before Receiving Your College Decision Letters

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3-steps-before-college-decision-lettersWith the pressure of submitting your college applications behind you, it might feel like your job is done; you’ve submitted all your applications and now you’re waiting for a decision from each school. But before you sit back and relax, take an active role in making sure you’ve done all you can to put your application in a slot for success.

We’ve heard too many stories about students who assume that their materials have been received and later find out, after months without a response, that their teachers’ recommendation letters or their standardized test scores never even made it to the admissions office. Don’t let this to happen to you!

Your job isn’t done until you’ve completed these important steps:

1. Make a Checklist of College Application Components

To effectively follow up on the status of your applications, create a list of your schools and a checklist of the application components you submitted. You can either confirm online by using your high school’s service or by signing on to the online tracking system used by many colleges. (You’ll have been assigned a username and password to access each school’s system during the application process.)

Alternatively, you can also call each Admissions office directly to check the status of your application.

Regardless of which method you choose, make sure the following components have been received and check them off your list:

  • The Common Application or Universal College Application
  • Individual school application and/or supplement
  • Optional supplemental materials
  • Your standardized test scores (SAT, ACT, SAT II, AP, TOEFL)
  • Your official high school transcript
  • Guidance counselor letter of recommendation
  • Required letters of recommendation
  • Mid-year grades
  • Application fee

Looking for more ways to keep yourself organized while waiting for college decision letters?

Pick up The College Bound Organizer for more helpful tips on what to do during and after your college application process.


2. Follow Up with Admissions

Many schools don’t send requests for missing information. Take responsibility and follow up with Admissions to make sure your file is complete.

Many schools that have online systems only keep track of required materials. So, if you submitted optional supplemental materials such as art portfolios, science projects, athletic videos, or writing samples, make a phone call to Admissions to confirm their receipt.

3. Keep in Touch with Admissions

Continue to make Admissions reps aware of any new positive developments relevant to your candidacy. If you’ve received any special attention or recognition, you should reach out to let them know about it.

For example, if you’ve won an award or contest or have had your work published, take pride and share your good news with your Admissions rep. Athletic, artistic, and musical accomplishments should also be shared.

Informing Admissions of your achievements could have a positive impact on your application. Be mindful in sharing only significant and meaningful accomplishments that you feel supplement your application in a positive way. Remain proactive in advocating for yourself with each Admissions department by demonstrating your continued success.

While you may feel like you’re in limbo awaiting decisions, there are several steps you can take to give yourself the best shot at getting into your top schools. Prepare for the waiting game by following up on your applications and taking the opportunity to present your most updated and complete profile to Admissions at every school.

Can you afford your college options?

Check out the Financial Fit® program to learn how you can compare award letters to find the school that fits your budget!


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Anna Costaras and Gail Liss are coauthors of The College Bound Organizer, the step-by-step guide to getting into the college of your choice. As cofounders of Bound to Organize LLC, the authors are dedicated to empowering students to successfully navigate the complicated college application process by providing a logical, easy-to-use organization system.

Anna Costaras holds a BS and MBA from New York University Stern School of Business. She is the founder of a college-bound mentoring program for disadvantaged students from her community. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Adventures in Learning, an educational enrichment program for children in need of after-school support.

Gail Liss earned an MBA from New York University Stern School of Business, studied at The London School of Economics, and holds a BA from the University of Rochester. Gail serves on the Advisory Board of Young Women’s Leadership Network, which supports The Young Women’s Leadership Schools and College Bound Initiative.

See The College Bound Organizer in the College Countdown Bookstore.