Mid-February is the peak of “Reading Season” in college admissions. During reading season, admissions officers read, evaluate and DECIDE the fates of applicants. Hopefully, you’ve been following the 52 Weeks plan and you’ve done everything possible to make your best case for admission. You’ve submitted a standout application, you’ve submitted any required or helpful updates, and you’ve confirmed that your application is complete. If so, all you have to pay attention to this week is staying up with the financial aid application process. If not, this week is really your last chance to submit application updates and/or complete your application. If you don’t act now, then the colleges will make their decisions anyway. This week’s tips and tricks are focused on helping you take the necessary final steps across the finish line.
Week 34 To-Dos
- Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
- Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.
- Confirm that your applications are really truly COMPLETE at each and every college on your list.
- Send any application updates that are required (e.g. Midyear Reports) or that would be helpful.
- Interview with colleges.
- Provide the documentation necessary to support your financial aid application if required by the college or if you are selected for verification.
Tips & Tricks
1) Take action.
Procrastination is always a bad strategy, but it is deadly at this stage in the process. Colleges are making hundreds – that’s right hundreds – of decisions each and every day right now because they must notify applicants of their decisions within weeks. So you’ve got to act now if your application is incomplete or if there is anything you want to add to your application before a decision is made.
For International Students only: If the college requires you to submit financial documentation regarding your ability to pay (ultimately necessary for the visa process) before the admissions decision, then you need to confirm that you have sent what is required and that the college has received and processed it. Otherwise, your application will be considered incomplete and either no decision will be made or you will be automatically denied.
2) Don't panic if you are chosen for financial aid verification.
About 30% of FAFSA applicants are chosen every year and most of these applicants are chosen randomly. If you are selected then you will be asked to submit a verification worksheet, tax returns, and perhaps other supporting documents.
You can read more about what to do during this phase of the process in Chapters 22 and 23 of our book, How to Prepare a Standout College Application.
About the Authors:
Alison Cooper Chisolm heads the college admissions consulting practice at Ivey Consulting. She came to private consulting after working in admissions for more than 10 years at three selective universities (Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College).
Anna Ivey is the former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process and make smart choices about higher education.
About the 52 Weeks to College Series:
52 Weeks to College is a week-by-week plan for applying to college. It breaks this complex and difficult project down into weekly to-do lists with supporting tips and tricks for getting it all done. Based on the Master Plan for applying to college found in our book, How to Prepare a Standout College Application, 52 Weeks to College is designed for any applicant who intends to apply to top U.S. colleges. For those of you who are just discovering the 52 Weeks series and want to catch up, click here.