What to do after you’ve submitted your college applications

You might experience a rush of dread, and then relief, when you finally submit all of your college application materials. At the end of such a long process, you might be wondering: what’s next? It’s almost a cliché that second-semester high school seniors are notoriously unmotivated in their schoolwork and tend to slack off. However, seniors should remember that until they set foot on their college campus, their position shouldn’t be considered secure. Besides the real possibility that admission can be revoked, there is plenty of work to be done during the rest of senior year and the summer before college starts. This should be a time to make sure you’re fully prepared for college life and build your resume. So, how should seniors spend the rest of the year until college starts?

1. Apply for financial aid and scholarships

In a previous article, we offered a guide to navigating the world of financial aid and scholarships. Typically, students should fill out the FAFSA, CSS Profile, and school-specific applications for financial aid in the winter/spring after applications are due. Hunting for and applying to outside scholarships is a year-long process that seniors should consider as almost a part-time job.

2. Keep your grades up!

Note that college admission is conditional. Admission can be revoked for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons could be a significant academic downturn senior year. Students should not feel that once they have been accepted to a college, they can slide through the rest of the year with low grades and easy courses. Seniors should work to keep their grades in good standing, take challenging courses, and maintain a solid academic record. Of course, poor spring semester grades may result from extenuating circumstances, and in this case students should contact their future institution to let them know.

3. Find meaningful ways to spend your time

Even with a few acceptances or a commitment under their belt, students should be looking for opportunities to bolster their resume. This will help later on when students may be seeking internships, research positions, or jobs during their college years. Seniors should remain committed to their extracurriculars and try to take more responsibility or leadership positions if possible. Similarly, look for summer jobs, internships, and other summer programs, particularly those geared at college readiness. Senior year and the summer afterward represent an opportunity to demonstrate seriousness and maturity before you begin college.

4. Look for admitted students events, bridge programs, and other opportunities to learn more about your intended college

Many schools offer admitted students the opportunity to participate in events on campus, usually designed to help students decide where to commit. These events will typically be high-energy and involve tours, panels, social events, and the chance to sit in on classes. Some programs involve an overnight stay. They can be a fun, if sometimes overwhelming, way to get a sense of the campus vibe and make connections with other students. Some schools also offer bridge programs. These usually take place the summer before students start their first semester and are intended to help students build skills they will need to succeed in college courses. Although many bridge programs are invitation only, plenty offer them to all committed students. Research your institution to see if there is a bridge program you may be eligible for.

5. Complete all school paperwork and housing arrangements ahead of time

If you are moving away from home, whether living on campus or off, you will likely need to complete a variety of preparations to be ready for move-in day. This may include filling out housing surveys, apartment hunting, and shopping for supplies. The earlier you get this taken care of the better—your first few weeks in college will be packed with activity.

It’s also a certainty that your school will require you to fill out a bunch of documentation. You will likely need to set up an account with your school website and provide information ranging from emergency contacts to whether or not you have health insurance. Again, taking care of this early will smooth the transition. You might also need to choose classes and sign up for orientation events. If you’re not already in the habit of regularly checking your email, it’s time to start. Email is likely to be the college’s main method of communication with prospective students, and you should check it frequently for updates and information about how to get ready for your semester.

To conclude, the rest of your time before you go to college should be exciting and an opportunity to enjoy time with friends. Do take time to make the most of the activities you had to forgo to complete your application. However, please do not neglect your scholastic obligations and try to find a nice groove to get you through the end of the school year. This way, you ensure that all that hard work actually pays off and isn’t taken away at the last minute. Additionally, this time is your chance to get ahead in things adjacent to the admissions process. This will ease the stress of the transitions and get you connected with future peers. Trusting the process and approaching all its phases with a growth mindset is the best method.

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