Discover what important next steps to take so you can increase your admissions chances
If you’ve pushed the “Submit” button on your final college application, congratulations! You’ve poured your time and energy into your college apps for months. Now the hard work is over and you can sit back and relax—sort of.
The time-consuming part is indeed done, but there are still some important follow-up application tasks for you to complete. After all, you wouldn’t want to overlook something critical and accidentally hurt your college admissions chances.
As we head into the holidays, it may be tempting to wipe all thoughts of college applications from your mind. But if you want to maximize your odds of getting accepted to your dream schools, you’ll need to stay organized and move through several important steps.
Don’t worry—these are simple and enjoyable tasks. Especially when compared to the stress of all those college essays.
Keep reading to discover exactly what you need to do after applying to college. This is your chance to get one final admissions advantage!
1. Create your student portals for each college
Within a day or two of submitting a college application, you’ll receive an email from the school you applied to that asks you to create a student portal.
You might think, “Why do I need a student portal when I don’t know if I’ll get accepted or even end up attending this college?” Good question! It can be confusing because student portals are used for current and prospective college students alike.
So let’s look at the most relevant part of a student portal for new applicants. Your student portal will let you know if there is anything missing from your college application. This could include:
- Housing application forms
- FAFSA application
- CSS profile
- Any supplemental application materials
The last thing you want is for your application to be canceled or your admission decision to be delayed. That’s why it’s crucial to create your student portals for every college and regularly check them—once a week is fine.
And here’s an extra tip. You might create ten or more student portals. To avoid forgetting your usernames and passwords, be sure to save them somewhere—on your phone, in a Google Doc, or in a secure physical notebook.
2. Check and read your emails
After you submit your college applications, get ready to be bombarded by emails. The colleges you’ve applied to you will email you about the next steps, upcoming admissions events, scholarship opportunities, and more.
The volume of these emails can feel overwhelming—especially if you applied to ten or more colleges—but ignoring or deleting them may get you into trouble down the road.
For instance, if you delete the email containing your college ID number or student portal password, it will be a headache to find or reset those later on.
So here’s what I suggest. Check your email at least every two or three days. Read each email carefully to see if a college is asking you to do anything important or time-sensitive.
Within your inbox, create a folder for each college you’ve applied to. After you’ve read an email, file it into the correct folder. That way, you’ll clean up your inbox while still keeping the emails you might need in the future.
3. Send your mid-year school report
Most colleges will ask you to submit a mid-year report, which includes your fall grades. And why do they care to review your mid-year progress? It’s simple. Schools want to see if you’re slacking off or continuing to push yourself and prepare for college.
If you’re on the fence between getting accepted or rejected, a positive mid-year report can be the nudge you need to be admitted. On the other hand, a poor mid-year report might earn you a denial letter. That’s why your grades in senior year still matter!
Your high school counselor might already be on top of sending your mid-year report, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check that it gets sent to all the colleges you applied to. After all, your counselor might have 100+ other seniors they’re working with. Don’t feel bad about checking in and making sure this requirement is complete.
4. Share important application updates
If you submit your college applications early, you might find yourself wanting to update your colleges with some new achievements. This is totally acceptable and can boost your admissions chances—if you send your updates in a professional way.
The best way to update colleges with new achievements is to send an email to your regional admissions officer. If you have multiple things to update them about, bundle them into a single email. This is better than sending several emails and potentially annoying your admissions rep.
In your email, be short and to the point. Reemphasize your desire to attend their college, then share your significant updates. These could include:
- New SAT or ACT scores
- New academic or extracurricular awards
- New leadership positions (e.g. swimming team captain)
- New extracurricular accomplishments
Finish your email by thanking the admissions officer for their time, then sign off with a professional signature.
5. Stay engaged with your colleges
Competitive colleges track their applicants’ engagement and use that data when making admissions decisions. And this doesn’t stop after you submit your application. By staying engaged with your dream schools, you’ll increase your odds of getting accepted.
Here are a few of the ways you can demonstrate your interest and engagement:
- Go on a campus visit (if you haven’t already)
- Attend an admissions event—either virtual or on-campus
- Interact with the college through social media—follow them, like their posts, and leave comments
- Call your admissions officer with questions you have about the school. Warning—don’t pester them about your application. Instead, ask thoughtful questions about student life and how to get involved.
- Apply for school-specific scholarships and programs
The more times your name comes up in a positive way, the more likely you’ll achieve your goal of getting admitted. Plus, you’ll form connections with various people at the college, which will help you transition more successfully when you become a freshman.
6. Apply for outside scholarships
Who wants to pay more for college than they need to? Nobody! That’s why you should apply for outside scholarships throughout your senior year.
Here’s the good news—you can use a lot of what you prepared for your college applications to apply for scholarships. Keep your resume, application essays, and letters of recommendation close at hand.
Scholarships are available all year round, but the biggest deadline rush will take place between January and April. To maximize the effectiveness of your scholarship search, follow these tips:
- Set a consistent, manageable goal—like applying to one scholarship every week.
- Prioritize local scholarships over national ones. You’ll have less competition and a greater chance of winning the money.
- Apply to the super specific (and even weird) scholarships. Once again, if fewer students meet the criteria to apply, the odds will be in your favor.
- Don’t overlook the smaller scholarships—winning several of them can add up and make a big difference.
Applying to scholarships can seem like a lot of work, but the payoff will make it all worth it. Trust me!
7. Celebrate your accomplishments and enjoy senior year
You’ve been working hard for years to get where you are now. Your high school experience has not been an easy one, but you’re nearing the end of it. You should reward yourself for everything you’ve achieved and overcome.
Make meaningful memories with your friends. Participate in the big senior year activities. Live your life to the fullest so you can leave high school without any regrets.
And as you prepare to enter college next fall, reflect on the lessons you’ve learned in high school. Think about your strengths, your goals, and how you want to grow in college. You have a future full of potential ahead of you—start getting excited!
Once again, congratulations on finishing your college applications! You should be proud of yourself. Just remember to complete these important follow-up tasks so you’ll have the greatest possible chance of seeing your college dreams come true.
I want to hear from you! How are you feeling now that you’ve submitted all your college applications? How are you planning to enjoy your senior year? Write me a note.
Dr. Tucker established her own consulting business after a long, successful career working in higher education. Besides being an associate member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), she is also trained as a Life and Career Coach through the Institute for Life Coach Training. She toured hundreds of colleges, networked with admissions reps from across the country, and spoken at national conferences about student success and college retention. Read more about her here.