This is part five of my “Applying to College” series! I hope that these help some of you in your college search and process. If you missed part one of this series, check it out here: my experience applying to college, finding the right school, pre-application prep, and applying.
Note: I’m not an expert in any way, shape or form. My advice may not get you into your dream college – it’s just what worked for me!
the waiting game
The pain of applying to college is definitely the time between applying to hearing back. Waiting for results was 100% the worst part of the entire process, but even then, it wasn’t that bad. My biggest tip for getting through those months is to keep busy. Try not to think about it (as hard as that is) and instead make plans to fill up your time and brain space. I recommend applying to scholarships, which is equally as time-consuming as applying to college. Surprisingly enough, the time passes pretty quickly.
#1 most important thing to do when waiting for responses: stay on top of your email and portals. Most schools use a portal to keep track of your documents and will communicate with you via the portal, so make sure to check it regularly. Check to make sure they’ve received all of your documents and that they don’t have any weird school-specific documents (ESPECIALLY in the financial aid department).
Financial aid is the reason I’m able to go to the school I am. Make sure that your parents get their taxes done ASAP (I’m serious. Like. As soon as humanly possible.) because many schools will not give you your need-based financial aid package until they receive your parents’ taxes. As mentioned above, some schools have unique requests in the financial aid department, so keep a look out for that on your portals and in your email.
Another big thing about financial aid: once you receive your package, know that you can always contest it if you think you deserve more, especially if you get more from a similar school. Don’t be afraid to ask for more need-based financial aid!
gettin’ those results
The classic getting-your-acceptance-letter-in-the-mail-thing? Not 100% true. I had two schools who sent me my letters ONLY via mail, the rest posted responses on our portals or emailed us and then mailed acceptance packages. If you get back positive results, CELEBRATE! Get some ice cream, call all of your biggest fans and party party party. If you didn’t get in, take my mom’s advice: every place is what you make of it – even if it’s not originally your #1, you can make it your #1.
If you got deferred, you’re in the same boat I was in for two of my schools. What to do: write a letter of intent. This letter essentially says, “yes, I’m still interested going to [insert school name here] because of [reason 1], [reason 2], and [reason 3].” Obviously, it’s a bit longer than that. My letters were both about a page and focused on reasons I loved the schools and new things that had happened in my life since I applied. Did you ace your finals? Let them know! Did you start a new job, join a new club, do some incredibly meaningful service? Let ’em know! Considering switching your major? Let ’em know! I also got an additional letter of recommendation from someone outside of school (mine was from someone in publishing who knows me really well, which appealed to my career goal focus of my application) and this is something I highly recommend doing.
Note on deferrals: don’t write your letter until at least two weeks after you’ve gotten your response. Simmer down from the initial anger, and don’t tell the school how hurt you are by their deferral. Be kind and polite!
It’s time to make a choice, as shocking as that may sound. Take a bit of time, consider your options, and refer to next week’s post about making a decision.
Next up in this series:
- Making a decision
If you have any questions about my process or anything along the way, feel free to comment down below, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or a tweet (@WillasRamblings) and I’ll be happy to reply.