By Lighthouse Counselor Angela Molloy, M.A.
All through September and October, you worked diligently to get those essays in tip-top shape, improve your ACT score one last time, request your letters of recommendation, request your transcripts, and submit your college applications by the November 1st deadline. Give yourself a pat on the back and breathe a huge sigh of relief! You’re DONE, right? Well, not necessarily. Just because you submitted your applications doesn’t mean that this process is over. In fact, it’s just begun!
November 1st is typically the deadline for Early Action and Early Decision; however, you may find you still have regular decision applications that you haven’t yet submitted (as much as counselors would love it if ALL applications were submitted by November 1st, the reality is that many students miss this deadline). To go along with those apps, you may have more essays to write and more letters of recommendation and transcripts to request. You may have also applied to schools that you haven’t yet visited. And, you may be itching to see what kind of scholarships are out there for a student like you.
No matter how many schools you’ve applied to so far, there are still many tasks that need to be completed before D-Day (May 1st – the usual date by which you need to commit to a college that has accepted you). Below are some things you can do this winter while you wait for those acceptance letters to start rolling in!
- Transcript Requests. Some colleges want a mid-year report on students. Be sure to send your transcripts as required by the colleges you’ve applied to. Don’t forget to send your final transcript (you know, the one that signifies that you have actually graduated from high school) to your selected college at the end of the year.
- More ACT Testing. If you are not completely satisfied with your highest ACT score, you may wish to take the ACT one last time this December. Even if it’s too late to use the score for an admission decision, it could make all the difference in your eligibility for merit aid.
- Follow up with College Admissions Offices. For each college that you submitted an application to, call the admissions office and confirm that they’ve received your application and all other required documents (transcripts, test scores, supplemental forms, and letters of recommendation). Make note of the date you called and the person you spoke with. If any documents should be lost, you’ll then have written record of your discussion with the school.
- If you have submitted applications online, save your confirmation e-mails!
- VISIT, VISIT, VISIT! Did I mention visit? Even if you have visited a campus multiple times, visit again. Each time you tour a campus you get a different perspective. The more information you have before you commit, the better! Just like you (hopefully) wouldn’t buy a house sight unseen, you definitely don’t want to attend a college that you’ve never visited. Seeing a campus in person is the only way you’re going to know if you can truly see yourself going to that school. Make sure you keep a log of each visit and most importantly, ASK QUESTIONS!
- Start Looking for Scholarships! Even if you qualify for merit aid from the schools, you still want to see what kind of scholarships are out there. Deadlines most likely will not be until sometime in the early Spring semester, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look! Check for posted scholarships in your high school’s Guidance Department or on their website. Ask your counselor at school to keep an eye out for scholarships that you may qualify for. Don’t forget about scholarship websites, but beware of scams! Some reputable scholarship sites include: