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As the fall semester draws to a close, many seniors are doing a lot of waiting and wishing… for exams to end, for winter break to begin, and, most anxiously, for college admissions decisions to come back. Most early action colleges will notify applicants sometime in January or early February – Northeastern, UW-Madison, University of Michigan, UVA, Villanova, University of Tampa, for examples. But, while many other universities have yet to share their verdicts, we often get asked the question: What should I be doing while I’m just waiting for a decision? As tough as the waiting game can be, here are a few productive steps you can take to make it easier.

First, and perhaps most important is to check up on your application status at all your early colleges.

Shortly after you submit your applications, you should receive an email confirmation indicating that your application was received. In that email, you will also receive instructions for how to log into an applicant portal, where you can check on the status of your application and eventually be notified of your admission decision. It is crucial that you login to these portals and keep track of any additional information the colleges are requesting. Some colleges, for example, require applicants to submit a “Student-Reported Academic Record” (SRAR) after applying. Logging into your portal is how you can verify that your colleges have all the information they need to evaluate your application and to know about any necessary next steps in the application process! Some colleges also ask that you submit your standardized test scores or other materials through these portals, so it is essential that you follow the instructions to set them up and check them periodically.

Provide relevant updates to admission offices.

Sometimes, as the end of the first quarter of the year comes to a close, or the fall sports season ends, or you find out that you got a starring role in the winter musical, you may wonder whether new information can be added to a submitted application.  The answer is YES!  If something important comes up in your life in between now and when you get your admission decision, it is perfectly appropriate and even advantageous to add that new information into your application portal at your colleges, or even to send an email to the admissions offices at the colleges to let them know your good news.  This is a good way to continue demonstrating interest at your colleges and show them that you remain engaged in your courses and extracurriculars as a senior, and remain interested in their college!

Get in the right headspace.

Finally, we recommend that, between now and when you hear back from your colleges, you do some reflection on this college admission process and what it means for you. Of course, it is an important transition point in your life, but remember that the decisions that come back from colleges are not a referendum on you as an individual or even as a student.  Colleges aim to enroll diverse groups of students who satisfy institutional priorities, and every year, colleges have to deny very qualified applicants. And every year, most students experience some happy news and some not-so-happy news from the colleges where they applied.  If you can, try to put your college applications in perspective and remember that, regardless of the outcomes you see in December or onward, you are still you, and you are going to have great experiences after high school if you remain open to growth and new ideas.

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