Done With Your College Applications? Here are 6 Things to Do After You Hit Submit


Well, you’ve submitted your college applications and now you’re sitting around wondering what to do while waiting for decisions to come out. Truth to be told, there’s a lot you can do after submitting your applications ranging from starting a financial aid application to sending thank you notes to your letters of recommendation writers.

Some of the items on the post-submissions “to do” lists have time constraints or deadlines, so it’s important not to wait around or put tasks off until after decision notifications. Here are 6 things to do after you’ve hit submit on your college application:

1. Follow-up.

The first thing you should do is check the status of your application. Once you’ve hit send, check your inbox for a confirmation email from the university stating that your application has been received. If you don’t receive anything, double check that your spam filters are set to allow emails from the colleges you’ve applied to. Go down the application checklist and ask yourself the questions: Does the school have your official transcript and test scores? Have your counselors and other recommenders submitted their letters of recommendation? Ensure that you’ve ordered your test scores far enough before the deadline that they will arrive to the school on time. Test scores can take up to 3 weeks to arrive during busy periods or the holiday season.

2. Send out thank you notes and letters.

As a common courtesy, you should always send a thank you note to those who have taken the time to write you a recommendation or letter of support.

A thank you note also helps to communicate your genuine appreciation to your recommender and will leave you in their good graces should you need another recommendation or have a similar ask in the future. It’s best to send a handwritten thank you note, but a personalized email can work too for extenuating circumstances.

3. Apply for financial aid.

The deadline to receive federal financial aid for the 2019-20 school year is June 30, 2020, but many of the schools you apply to will have separate deadlines to be eligible to receive aid from them. The federal financial aid application system, known as the FAFSA, can be confusing, but you should still fill it out if you’re looking for federal student loans, as well as other grants and scholarships from federal and state governments and colleges. Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, it’s a good idea to file anyway. Many people who think they won’t qualify for federal aid actually will.

4. Catch up on what you’ve been missing.

Now that you’ve finished your applications, you should take some time to catch up on movies, tv shows, projects, and trips that you’ve put to the side over the last few months. It’s a great time to relax and wait for the results as long as you keep in mind that colleges do ask for senior year grades from undergrad applicants and its possible to revoke and should your senior year grades show a significant downturn. Still, remember that in a few months you’ll be going off to school, so take every opportunity to spend time with friends and family before you leave for college, should you choose to go somewhere that’s far away from home.

5. Do some more research.

While a large part of the college search is over, there’s always more to discover about the colleges you’ve applied to. Now that you’re not focused on applications, spend some time exploring and researching  more about the aspects of each school that you’d like to know more about. This information will help you narrow down the choices when it comes time to make a decision about where to enroll.

6. Take time for reflection.

The college application process can be emotionally taxing and at the same time revealing as you discuss your personal background, experiences, and aspirations through your personal statements and college admissions essays. Now is the time to take it all in and more deeply reflect on your experiences during the college application process. Ask yourself the questions: What have I learned about myself over the last few months? What new experiences or revelations will inform my goals or areas of interest in college? How have my interests changed with respect to the field of study I’d like to pursue? What role did my family and friends play in the application process?

After all of that, pat yourself on the back. Although a large part of the population goes through the college application process, it’s still not easy, and you should be proud of the work you’ve done. Next, thank your family and friends for their support over the last few months. And lastly, sit back, and try not to stress too much as you wait for results to come in.