How to Survive Before Decisions Arrive

Waiting for college admission decisions can be excruciating. Fortunately, there's much you can do to help your cause while you're waiting.

You've submitted your applications. Your fate is now in the hands of the admission staff. What else can you do? Actually, quite a bit.

Relax

According to recent surveys, about two-thirds of college freshmen end up attending their first-choice school, and a little less than one quarter attend their second choice. So your odds of getting in to one of your top colleges are actually pretty good. Try to let go of some stress.

But Don't Relax Too Much

Don't relax about your senior grades, however. Your college will expect them to be consistent with the grades you submitted with your application. If your grades have dropped, the college may ask for an explanation and require you to bring up your grades before they let you enroll in the fall.

Make Sure the Colleges Have What They Need

Check with the admission offices to make sure they received your application, your letters of recommendation, and other materials. Contact your high school to make sure they sent your midterm grades. If anything is missing, don't panic. Check back with the college in a week or so. If pieces are still missing, arrange for them to be sent to the college as soon as possible.

Keep on Top of Changes and Late-Breaking Info

Sometimes things change after you submit your application. It could be something simple like your address or phone number. But you may decide to switch majors or take a different SAT Subject Test. Admission offices don't like surprises, so let them know. If you take the SAT or the ACT in December of your senior year, make sure the testing agencies report your scores to all the colleges you've applied to.

Continue to Show Your Interest

Colleges want students who want the college in return. There are lots of ways to show them how much you want to attend, such as visits and interviews. You could also send a letter to your college representative describing recent accomplishments and explaining why you continue to be interested in the college and believe you would make a good contribution. But don't call repeatedly to find out when admission decisions will be sent. You want to be remembered for being a great candidate for admission, not a pest.

Visit Your Colleges, Especially Your Top Choices

If you didn't get a chance to visit a college before you applied, now is a good time to do it. Visiting is the best way to get a feel for the campus. Talk with students and see what they like or dislike about it, sit in on a class, experience the weather, eat in the cafeteria, tour the dorms, and appreciate the landscape, architecture, and surrounding community.

Interview with Your Top Choices

Even if it is not required, consider scheduling an interview with a college representative or alumnus, either on campus or in your community. Bear in mind that it's a two-way street. Your interviewer may ask you some questions, but you're encouraged to ask questions too, to see if you'll fit in and enjoy your time at the school.

Focus on Finances

Complete all financial aid applications and other forms required by your colleges. Be sure you understand how to get merit aid and scholarships from each college. There may be separate forms and deadlines. All this information should be on the college's website. Also research scholarships offered by outside providers. Many of these deadlines fall after college deadlines so you might still have time to apply.

Continue to Research Your Colleges, Including Your Backups

Even if you know a great deal about your colleges, learning more about them can be helpful. If you don't get into your first choice, you will know a lot about your other options. You won't have to rush to do further research between the time you receive your acceptance letters and the deadlines for your tuition deposit.

What's Next?