By Deb Coco
November 1 is a big milestone for high school seniors and college admissions. Early Action is the first in a “series” of possible application deadlines for college seniors. At The College Advisor of New York, we encourage most of our students to submit their applications (if offered by colleges on their list) prior to this deadline. So at this point in the process, most of our students have submitted one, if not all, of their applications. As busy as that made the beginning of the fall semester, most students – and their parents – experience relief in getting the applications out the door. Deadlines are still out there – from December until March 15 — but things are beginning to quiet down for our seniors who’ve been writing essays for what seems like months.
So you’ve hit the submit button . . . what happens next? It is prudent to follow up with college admission offices and verify that they’ve received ALL the components of your application. You should do so about two weeks after you’ve applied. Believe me, we’ve seen the fall-out of panic when students realize they forgot to send their test scores or their supplemental essay…it happens. And, there were some incidents this year of scores from testing boards being lost in the shuffle. It took students and parents quite some time to get it straightened out, so checking in to verify your application is complete is worth what little time it takes.
And now, it is time for patience. The majority of our students begin working with us at some point in their sophomore or junior year, so once the application deadlines have come and gone, they are more than one year in. It is at that point that the real waiting begins. Acceptances for Early Action and Early Decision normally begin to roll in around the holidays, but Regular Decision notifications won’t be available until winter or early spring. That can feel like a lifetime of running to the mailbox.
Just hold tight because most (if not all) students will receive at least one “deferral” letter. Deferrals place students who applied under the Early Action plan on a wait list of sorts until the entire application pool is reviewed – usually in the spring. Most schools will offer the option of remaining on the deferral list or not. This can cause some last minute anxiety, but unfortunately is quite common. As much as we’d love to tell students that once you’ve submitted, you can sit back and relax, that is no longer the case. Admission boards will be watching to see that you continue to do well in school, right through senior year. And in the case of a deferral, it’s even more crucial.
The take away is that this process is long and drawn out, with curves and speed bumps. The sigh of relief after pushing the “submit” button is closely followed by worry, both by student and parent. I tell my students that the best way to fight the anxiety is to understand that the hardest work is done and now it is time to let go and let the process play itself out and go back to being a high school student for just a few more months!