We all have been told at one time or another that “patience is a virtue” and it’s certainly part of life. No time exemplifies this adage better than the months that follow hitting the submit button on college applications. Initially, there is a huge relief for all: parents, students and even college admission counselors. Months (often years) have gone into that one moment; studying, taking standardized tests, visiting campus after campus, writing the very best essay. . . and then it all comes down to submit . . .and wait. And that’s the hardest part.
We have somewhat of a “post application lull” here at our office. It always coincides with the holidays. Our students and parents have done their “due diligence” and we’ve watched, guided, and prodded them through the process to application submission. But now what? Calls from parents start coming in right about now – mid February. . .and you can hear the return of anxiety in their voices. They wonder when they might start hearing back from schools and those who already have received acceptances wonder when (and if) financial aid decisions or merit awards will come in the mail. Unfortunately, there is no tried and true formula. It sounds trite to say, but every school is different, and it’s true. However, here is a rough guideline on how things “normally” unfold in the months after application season.
First – an important note to ALL students in the process of applying and we CANNOT stress this enough: Once you have submitted your application you should ALWAYS follow up with the school to which you have applied and inquire “is my application complete?” I can’t tell you how often we hear that something did not make it, whether it is transcript from a guidance office, a recommendation, a financial aid application, or SAT/ACT scores; quite a few things must come together to make an application complete. Do NOT leave this to chance; it only takes a few minutes to follow up! And who should follow up? If you’ve read our blog in the past you know the answer: the student, not the parents!
The EA and ED decisions will come in first, normally by early January (some as early as Christmas). But that doesn’t mean the financial aid decision will soon follow, so the waiting is often not over. The filing of the correct forms is crucial for the schools to send out awards and loans; this is a great reason to rely on an admission counselor familiar with what financial data schools require from you.
Beyond EA and ED there are two other types of admissions decisions: Regular and Rolling. Regular decisions “should” be in by mid-March and Rolling are just what the word says . . .they roll through the process as they arrive in admissions offices. So, the applications they see first are decided upon first, and so on. There are schools that will accept applications right into early June, although this is rare.
Whichever application you submitted, there is waiting to be done. The best way to assure your wait isn’t agonizing is to have been well prepared and submitted the best application on the correct timeframe with the correct documents, both academic and financial. Don’t leave this to chance. College admissions counselors know the roadmap and the timeframe and are here to help and alleviate worry and stress. It’s the biggest decision a student will have ever made with a price tag to match, and we are here to help!