By Purvi S. Mody
It is hard for many high school seniors and their parents to believe that the Fall Season of applying to college will ever come to an end. With most application deadlines behind many students submitted their last applications just before the new year began. After such a stressful and trying process, most students are ready to relax and hopefully enjoy the remainder of senior year before decisions start to roll out.
But before you completely zone out of the admissions process, there are several things you need to get in order first:
Your applications may be in, but the financial aid process is just beginning.
If your family is planning to apply for aid, this is the time to start planning. Families are now eligible to fill out te FAFSA, which is the starting point in the process. This is the federal financial aid form. In order to complete this form, your parents should try to get their taxes done as quickly as possible this year. So make sure they don’t wait until the April 17th deadline. Waiting means that you likely will not get your aid packages from different colleges before you have to make a final decision on where to go next year. Certain colleges will also require additional documents including the CSS Profile, college specific forms, or tax returns from the past two years. While there are typically no hard deadlines for financial aid, apply early.
Many colleges will also require students to submit mid-year reports, which will list your first semester grades from this year.
Some students do not take their finals until late January, but just make sure that your school sends off these reports as soon as grades become available. Your high school should be very familiar with the process since they go through this process every year. If you do not ensure that your mid-year grades are sent, your admissions decisions are in jeopardy.
Occasionally, colleges will send questionnaires to specific students. If you get one of these, please do not take it lightly.
This is a college’s way of saying that they need more information from you in order to make an appropriate decision. Failing to submit the form indicates a lack of interest in that school and that can in no way be interpreted positively. When completing these questionnaires, think about what is already on the application you submitted and add new information. Simply repeating or copying essays will not give the admissions officers the information that they seek. Do not wait until the last minute on these.
Now is also the time that colleges that conduct interviews will start to make those requests.
Check your email and phone messages in a timely manner. You don’t want to ignore an interviewer. While the college interview and its impact have been hotly debated, please don’t take these lightly. You don’t want any negative feedback to reach the admissions officer. Be prepared for these interviews and know why you want to go to that specific school.
While it is common for Senioritis to settle in easily, do not let your grades slide.
I cannot stress enough how important this is. Colleges reserve the right to rescind an offer of admissions whenever they so choose. If a college receives your final semester grades in July and they are not up to par, you may lose your acceptance late in the summer and not have many options. A general rule of thumb is that your grades should not fall more than one GPA point. So if you have maintained a 3.7 throughout high school, make sure you stay above the 3.0 mark. Also, many schools will consider a D or an F to be grounds for automatic rescinding, regardless of the overall GPA.
Enjoy the fact that you have now done most of the hard work, but don’t let that hard work go to waste now. Good Luck!
Purvi S. Mody is co-owner of Insight Education, an educational consulting firm that helps students throughout the country and internationally to achieve their educational goals. Get in touch with her via email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @InsightEduc.