Ah, that wonderful feeling when you have finally finished all of your applications! While you certainly deserve the time to sit back and exhale after all of that work, there are a few things that you should double check and stay focused on in the next several weeks.
- Make sure that you are checking your email regularly in case any colleges ask for more information that they need.
- Many colleges will send you log in details for a Status Check account with them. Good idea to keep this all in one place and then set a schedule to check this once in a while. A lot of times your admissions decision will be posted here. You will want to have this handy at the click of a mouse.
- This one seems very obvious, but worth reminding: You need to send official SAT scores from your CollegeBoard account to all of the schools that you applied to. It is not enough to just self-report your scores on the Common Application. This is true of any other tests like TOEFL or Advanced Placement tests as well.
- Financial Certification: If you are applying as an International Student to colleges in the US, you will need to get a student visa. The university that you attend will be sponsoring you for your student visa, and as per US regulations, the university needs to show proof that you can afford your education. They will need your family to prove that you can pay the tuition fees and living expenses to attend; this is called Financial Certification or Certification of Finances. Most schools only require this after the admissions decision comes out and you confirm your intent to enroll at their school, which means on or before May 1st. However, some universities require this earlier, often because they do not have financial aid and want to be sure that you can afford your education. Unfortunately, this is not shown in the Common Application, so you will either have to check the universities individually, or wait until they request this of you. They often ask for a specific form to be signed and stamped by a bank official showing that you have sufficient funds for first year of college. In my experience, banks are not that comfortable with signing these forms, but a general letter stating that the parents have sufficient funds will suffice. The burden of proof is more important when you actually go for the visa. Then you should bring bank statements to prove that you can afford this.
- Were you “Deferred” from an Early Application (Early Action or Early Decision)?: While for some schools a deferral is simply a polite rejection, you should assume that you have a chance still. They would likely have given you the opportunity to add new things to your application, so sometime before beginning of February you should write to them and let them know that they remain your top choice. Share any new developments or achievements also. You can also update them with any new grades, and you could ask for another recommendation. Most important is for them to know that this remains a priority for you.
- Automated Mails: You will get several mails from colleges asking you about things that you already sent. Don’t freak out, they are more than likely just automated mails they send to everyone. If you are sure that they have the materials, you can ignore and watch to see if the status changes. If you have any doubt though, call them to check.
- TOEFL or IELTS English proficiency tests: The US only requires International Students to take TOEFL if English is not your first language, but sometimes they will just send automated mails to all international students requesting this. These requests you should follow up with a request to “waive” this requirement. Let them know that English is your first language and that you have always studied in an English curriculum.
- Keep your focus on academics strong throughout the rest of the year. There is an effect we call “Senioritis” that creeps in during this last semester that you need to stay on guard to not let yourself catch. Doing well in the finals will often allow you to earn college credits or advanced standing.
- Wait-Lists: I have noticed a trend in last few years of many schools putting students on a “wait-list”. This means that you are neither selected nor rejected, but they will wait to see how many students accept the original Acceptances, and then fill the remaining seats with students from the Wait List. If you are on a Wait List, you will have the chance to update them on anything new. It would be worthwhile to think now about what you could do to make that letter strong with activities that would add to your profile.
- Remember to give Thanks! You probably got some great recommendation letters from teachers. Now is a good time to thank them for taking the time and update them on some of your own experiences with the applications and new things that you are doing. This is not only a nice thing to do, but you may need to ask them for more help later if you are Wait Listed, and they will feel all the more willing if you showed this gratitude now.
Finally, “Don’t worry, you’ll get in!” We will be talking about how to make your Final Decisions on colleges you got into in an upcoming blog post, but for now, feel confident and pat yourself on the back for having done a great job!