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How to Survive Until Decisions Arrive

how to survive until decisions arrive

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.

1. Relax

Despite the reports you hear of single-digit admission rates at highly selective universities, your odds of getting into one of your top colleges are pretty good. According to a 2018 report on college freshmen by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, over 75 percent of students are accepted by their first-choice institution and go on to attend either their first or second choice. So try to let go of some stress. 

2. But Don't Relax Too Much

Don't relax about your senior grades, however. Colleges expect you to keep up your grades throughout your senior year. If your grades have dropped, some schools may ask for an explanation and require you to bring them up before enrolling. See 6 ways to fight senioritis.

3. 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 and also confirm that your high school has sent your midterm grades to the schools that require them. 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 as soon as possible.

4. Keep on Top of Changes and Late-Breaking Info

Sometimes things change after you submit your application. Whether it's a change to your address or phone number,  a change in major, or updated or late test scores, make sure to let the colleges know.

5. Continue to Show Your Interest

Colleges want students who want them and show interest. There are lots of ways to show interest in a college, such as visiting, participating in on- or off-campus interviews, and sending a letter to the admissions office describing any recent accomplishments and how you will contribute to the school. 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. For more tips, see 4 Ways to Demonstrate Interest After Submitting Your Application.

6. 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. See How College Visits Can Help You Choose a College.

7. 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 – for the interviewer to learn about you beyond your application and for you to learn more about the school. For advice on interviewing strong see: Ten Tips for Successful College Interviews.

8. Focus on Finances

If you haven’t done so already, complete all financial aid applications and other forms required by your colleges. Be sure you understand how to apply for merit aid and scholarships from each college. Each school may have different forms, requirements, and deadlines, which should be available on its website. Also, research scholarships offered by third-party organizations and funding sources. Application deadlines for these scholarships are often later than college deadlines, so you might still have time to apply. For help finding scholarships that are looking for students like you, visit CollegeData’s Scholarship Finder.

9. 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. For a guide to researching colleges online, see Mining for Gold on College Websites.

10. Focus on Your Senior Year

Take the time to enjoy life as a high school student. Hang out with your friends and take part in favorite activities and special events for seniors. Graduation will be here before you know it, and you'll be moving on to the next step, no matter which college you end up attending.

The information contained on the CollegeData website is for general informational purposes only and may not apply to you or your situation. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content contained on the CollegeData website without consulting with your parents, high school counselors, admissions representatives or other college counseling professionals. We disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on any content on the CollegeData website.