Getting Your College Application Done: The Art of Following Up
There are a lot of pieces to the college application puzzle—including test scores, writing a college application essay, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and more. Getting it all to fit together involves more than checking items off a checklist. You also have to follow up on a consistent basis.
It can be tough remembering to follow up on your college applications—especially when you have school, sports, tests, and other things to worry about. But follow-up is a crucial part of the process, at several stages. Here are several times during the college application process where it’s in your best interest to follow up on that last step you took.
After you send in your application
You’ll be sending in college applications that contain a lot of separate parts: your transcripts, test scores, recommendation letters from other people, and your own applications package. You’ll need to follow up at some point to make sure the colleges you’re applying to have all parts of your application. If they don’t, you’ll know to follow up with whoever’s responsible for sending in what’s missing—to make sure everything gets in on time.
Most schools send a notice to you when they receive your college application package, letting you know they received it. If you don’t receive one within a month of sending in your application, follow up with the school to make sure they got it.
Getting into college isn’t easy. There are a lot of things to keep track of when you submit your application—from your financial aid to your recommendation letters.
After you apply for financial aid
After you submit your FAFSA form, you can follow up to check the status of your application. The FAFSA website suggests you follow up one week after submitting an electronic signature page, and two or three weeks after mailing one in. You’ll be provided with a Student Aid Report (SAR) that tells you your expected family contribution to your education. When you follow up, you’ll have a chance to check the form for errors (and making mistakes in filling out a FAFSA application is pretty common), as well as add or delete schools you want to receive an application.
When you ask for recommendation letters
Your teachers, coaches, and counselors are busy people—and it’s likely you’re not the only student who’s asked them to write you a recommendation letter. They’ll do their best, but it’s your responsibility to make sure they get your letter of recommendation written and sent in by the deadline. Check with everyone you asked to write you a recommendation about two weeks before your application deadline to make sure they wrote and sent in a letter of recommendation for you. Or, you can call the school and ask them if they’ve received all your letters of recommendation. If not, politely remind the people who haven’t sent theirs in yet.
When you have an interview
If you’re lucky enough to be called in for an interview at your favorite school, you’ll want to make a good impression. And the job of impressing the interviewer doesn’t end when the interview is over. You should also send in a thank you card, a few days to a week after the interview, thanking the interviewer for speaking with you. It will make you stand out—chances are not many other students will take this step.
When you get on the waiting list
If you get on the waiting list at a favorite school, don’t let it rest there. Keep in touch with the admissions office and make sure they know that you’re still interested in attending that school—remember, many of the people you speak to over the phone will be assisting in making admissions decisions. Keep the school updated on your spring semester grades and be sure they know about your ongoing extracurricular achievements.
Getting into accredited online colleges isn’t easy. There are a lot of things to keep track of when you submit your application—from your financial aid to your recommendation letters. At different points in the process, it’s crucial to follow up to make sure your application is on track. With some organization, your application process should go smoothly—and you should be able to create positive impressions on your interviewers and members of the applications staff.
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