You are entering the final stretch and it’s easy to think that once you’ve submitted your application to a college, you’re done and all you have to do is wait.
But there is one more final step you’ve got to take before you go into waiting mode. You have to make sure your application is complete – meaning the college has EVERYTHING they require to evaluate your application.
This week, that’s your focus and we’ll give you some tips for how to do it and what to do if you have any problems. Plus we’ll throw in some tips for scholarships, since once you’re admitted, you’ve got to pay for it. ☺
1. Confirm that the applications you have submitted are complete by checking with the college. Most have some sort of applicant portal where you can confirm, but some give other directions or follow up with email confirmations. Whatever the method is for the particular college, use it. The only way to know that your application is complete FOR SURE is for you to have confirmation from the college. Just because the Common Application says "downloaded by the college," or your counselor has confirmed to you that something was sent, or Naviance shares some sort of status, does NOT mean that the college has put item(s) in your application file. Until you have confirmation from the college itself, you don't have confirmation–period. If you have not received confirmation within two weeks of (1) having submitted the application or (2) the deadline (whichever comes first), contact the admissions office to check the status of your application.
2. Resolve problems promptly. If you discover that something is missing from your application file, then it is up to you to fix the problem. Clarify exactly what is missing. Identify the fastest way to get the missing item to the college and into your application file. Then take action and get it done. Be as proactive as necessary. For example, volunteer to mail the recommendation yourself rather than wait for the recommender to find the stamp and mail it. Let the college know that you are aware of the problem and working to resolve it.
3. Call rather than email. You can often get the whole problem resolved in one phone call, whereas email often requires a long chain of back-and-forth correspondence.
4. Always be polite and respectful. No matter how frustrating these snafus are, being angry with others will probably make it harder to solve your problem, not easier. Any rudeness towards the admissions staff will also be noted and could be held against you.
5. Keep an eye out for the college-specific scholarship opportunities. Often you can’t apply for a college’s scholarships until after you’ve submitted your application.
6. Think local for other scholarship opportunities. Local sources are not as well-publicized and often underused. Many local businesses, civic, business and professional organizations offer small scholarships that can really add up. Don’t limit yourself to an internet search. Ask your school counselor, ask your parents, your friend’s parents, your boss or supervisor from any internship or job, the manager of a local business, the president of a local organization. Network, network, network. It can pay off!
Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the book How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.