What to Do After Submitting Your College Applications

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a student thinking about his goals on how to choose a college

What to Do After Submitting Your College Applications

Ahh, with a sigh of relief, you hit submit on your final college application. The screen erupts with colorful confetti. Now, the waiting game begins. After submitting your college applications, you might think you’re done, but your journey has just begun.

Whether you applied early action or regular decision, your schools will have a certain amount of time that they’ll need to review your applications. You might anxiously check your email inboxes, obsessively running out to check the mail, but nothing will make the admissions officers finish their review ahead of time.

The review process is meticulous and thorough. Admissions officers want to make sure they are giving every student a fair chance at admission. This means spending time reviewing every piece of application materials and then having a discussion about the top applicants.

a male teacher demonstrating in front of private high school students

There is usually a minimum amount of time that they spend on each application, too. If you’re twiddling your thumbs or wearing a path in the floor from pacing, here’s a list of things you can do after submitting your college applications.

1. Check for email confirmations.

For every school that you apply to, you should receive an email confirmation to the email you used to sign up. You’ll want to check your inbox to make sure you received a confirmation from all the schools you applied to.

If you applied to six schools, you should receive a confirmation from each of them. If you do not receive a confirmation, then you’ll want to wait a day or so, and then email the admissions representative to check on your application. You may also receive a confirmation when transcripts and letters of recommendation are received.

2. Double check application materials received.

After creating an account on each of the school’s online portals, you’ll want to use these accounts to keep track of your application materials.

If materials needed to be sent to the schools, like transcripts and letters of recommendation, make sure that these materials actually reach the school. If after a few weeks, you notice that application materials are still missing, you will want to confirm whatever is missing.

If it’s a letter of recommendation, you can check in with the recommender who was supposed to be writing the letter. If it’s a transcript, you can contact your school’s registrar. It will be important to make sure that all materials reach the school by the deadline, so think about this when making your requests.

3. Focus on final coursework.

Avoid letting senioritis distract you from finishing your final courses with the same academic rigor that you reported in your initial application. If your senior year courses include AP courses and dual enrollment college courses, make sure you maintain these courses into your final transcript.

a female high school student looking at the camera smiling

The admissions officers will absolutely check your final transcript to make sure you completed your projected course of study. Schools have been known to revoke admissions if a student withdraws from courses or fails their courses and thus drops their GPA. It’s important to complete any remaining projects and tests to finalize your commitment to learning.

4. Plan for graduation festivities.

Graduating from high school is an exciting time. You’ll be ending one chapter and stepping into the next four to six years of your life. Spend time celebrating this monumental moment with your family and friends. Plan a graduation party or a graduation road trip.

If there’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to travel, start planning when you’ll go and who you’ll take with you. If traveling isn’t your thing, maybe go shopping for new outfits or get your hair cut and styled a different way. Do something to help celebrate the transition from one stage of life to another.

5. Send thank you notes.

Think of everyone who has helped you during high school and with applying to college. From teachers and guidance counselors who write letters of recommendation to sports team coaches and your admissions representatives at each college, numerous people have a hand in helping you to apply to college and receive admission.

Sending a brief, but thoughtful “Thank You” note can be a great way to show gratitude to those who have helped you. Learning how to write and send “Thank You” notes will go a long way toward building and maintaining your network.

6. Go on campus tours.

You may have selected and applied to your schools without going to visit the college campuses. Visiting the campuses of the schools you are considering is a good step after applying. It’s also a great way to show a college you are interested after applying.

Berkeley University arc with students passing through it

Whether it’s a virtual tour with 3D videos of the campus or an in-person campus tour, visiting campus will give you the chance to experience what it’s like to be a student at the school. You can check out the libraries and dining halls, walk around the courtyards, and see the gym and class buildings. A campus tour can help you experience what attending the school will be like and determine if the vibe aligns with your vision for your life.

7. Meet scholarship deadlines.

While you’re waiting to hear back with your college application results, continue your search for scholarships. There are thousands of niche scholarships out there that will often require the same materials you’ve already put together for your college applications.

Use your newfound free time to continue submitting scholarship applications by their deadlines. You can also conduct additional searches to find awards that haven’t closed yet. Finding additional funds for your college expenses is always a good use of your time.

8. Make plans for the summer.

The end of the school year will roll around before you know it. Start making plans for what you’ll do over the summer. If you know you’ll want to work, start searching for internships in an industry that you’re curious about or put in applications for a full-time summer job.

Maybe you’re interested in participating in summer workshops and summer courses. Many colleges offer summer programs, so check the summer offerings of the colleges where you applied. Attending a summer workshop at the college of your choice is another way to show a college that you are interested after applying.

9. Celebrate with family.

Your family has probably been your strongest support system. Whether that is a mom and dad, a grandparent, an older sibling, or an adoptive guardian. Take time to thank your family and celebrate your accomplishments with them.

This can be as simple as cooking a family dinner or planning a family trip. It can also be more memorable like getting family pictures taken or getting matching shirts made. Doing something celebratory with your family after submitting your college applications can help alleviate some of your stress, remind you of why you applied, and take your mind off the waiting game.

10. Reconnect with friends.

Odds are that you and your closest friends will be headed off on very different paths after high school. You’ll be going to different colleges or starting to work at full-time jobs. Some of your friends may even travel overseas and go to school internationally.

2 female students and a make student standing next to each other having a conversation about legacy admission

Use the time after submitting your college applications to spend time reconnecting with your friends. You may do an activity you enjoy together like going to the movies or visiting a batting cage. As you move to college, it will be important to maintain bonds with people who have known you for years.

11. Learn a new hobby or skill.

One way to deal with having to wait is developing a new hobby or skill. Is there an instrument you’ve been wanting to adopt and practice for years? Would you like to study and learn a completely new language?

Taking some time to learn a new skill or topic can reignite your passions and remind you of how much enjoyment you get out of learning. You can also update the admissions offices with any new developments in your life.

12. Develop a back-up plan.

You want to be optimistic that you’ll be admitted into the school of your choice. However, the average acceptance rate of most schools means that you’re definitely going to experience some amount of rejection. After submitting your college applications, start thinking about the details of your backup plan in the event that you do not get accepted into any schools of your choice.

Your backup plan should include several different options for what to do next, including other safe schools you might still apply to and be admitted with a higher likelihood or interviewing for a full-time entry level job. Having at least one or two alternatives in the event you need them can keep you from feeling completely hopeless and desperate if you receive nothing but rejection letters.

13. Create a vision board.

A vision board is a powerful tool that can help channel and guide your life’s vision. You can create a vision board alone or as a project with family or friends. To create one, you’ll need a sturdy poster board in a color of your choice, magazines or printed images, letters or cut-out words, stickers, other decorations of your choice, scissors, and glue.

Use your own imagination and creativity to design your vision board in any way that you feel inspired to. It can be a mixture of images of your future life, pictures that represent you, words you want to live, and decorations that make you smile.

Arrange your vision board in a way that draws your eye and reminds you constantly of your goals and your drive. Display your vision board in a prominent place where you will see it everyday. Keeping your future on your mind in the present can keep you focused and persevering.

14. Interact with your selected schools on social media.

Another way to demonstrate your interest after submitting  your college applications is to keep in touch with the schools through their social media accounts. Most schools have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. They may even offer specific pages and groups for incoming freshman and alumni. Join these groups, follow the school’s pages, and stay up to date on their posts.

A well-timed comment or repost can increase the number of times attention is drawn to your name. Becoming a regular contributor on the school’s social media posts can show admissions officers clear as day that you are already becoming a member of the community.

Tips From a College Student

Madeline Lee, an alumni of the University of Michigan, recommended the following list of ways to relax after submitting your college applications. Here’s some of her best advice:

Create a playlist of your favorite songs for yourself and your friends.

Music is like a balm for the soul. Tuning in to your favorite tunes can help you tune out your worries and frustrations. Add your favorite tracks to a playlist, and try to keep it to 100 songs or less. Send your friends a link or make them a personalized version of their own.

Buy a new journal and start writing your thoughts, ideas, worries, and anxieties in it daily.

Daily journaling is a great stress reliever. It can help you to vent about what’s bothering you or get something off your mind. It can even help you achieve clarity if you have been confused. Journaling is a life-long habit with numerous relaxation benefits.

a group of students looking at the notes that the person in the middle is holding

Catch up on sleep with a weekend sleep in and veg out.

Make your bed the center of your existence for a day. Stay in your PJs and have all your meals from the comfort of your blankets. Don’t forget to brush away any crumbs. Having a day to just relax and do nothing can help you to recharge and reset.

Get moving. Dance, go for a run, try a new workout, or dive into the pool!

Exercise boosts mood and improves overall well-being. Find a sport you enjoy or get back into yoga and pilates. The goal is to move your body for at least 30 minutes to an hour everyday. Break a sweat and get your heart rate up. Your body will thank you.

Facetime or call your grandparents or your favorite aunt.

Reaching out to loved ones can be calming and soothing. They can share stories from your childhood that you had forgotten and give you advice from their own sage wisdom. Staying in touch with family is an important way to stay grounded and connected. Make sure they know you love them.

Find a new show to watch and start binge watching with your favorite snacks.

Between Netflix, Hulu, AmazonPrime, Disney, Peacock, Qubi, and all the other available streaming services, the number of shows you can watch is truly endless. Find something lighthearted and funny to enjoy that will get you laughing and remembering fond memories from your life.

Read something, like a magazine or book on your bookshelf you’ve been meaning to read.

Reading can be relaxing and engaging. If you enjoy graphic novels or have been meaning to start the next book in a fantasy series, grabbing a new book and settling into the pages can be exciting enough to distract you from wondering how long it takes to hear back from a college application.

Stretch. All that sitting down and looking at your computer can make you feel pretty stiff.

Along with getting exercise, stretching is an easy and gentle way to increase your movement. Focus on any painful joints or limbs. Remember to breathe deep, which has an added relaxing effect as well.

Organize your room. Donate or throw away used clothes that no longer fit.

Get a head start with preparing for your eventual move out. Cleaning your room will give you a chance to take inventory of what you have and start planning for the items you’ll need to buy. You can also start to make space for the new clothes and shoes from your celebratory shopping spree. Use this as a chance to donate gently used clothes and throw away that hideous sweater you will never wear.

Listen to a podcast. NPR’s Hidden Brain and Code Switch are current favorites!

Unlike books, podcasts require little mental energy from the listener. Find a podcast on a subject that interests you. There are great podcasts on true crime and murder mysteries, biographies, and funny facts from history. Pick a podcast that you can listen to while you do other things, like cooking, cleaning, or driving.

Have a movie marathon with friends through Zoom or Netflix Party.

If you can’t gather physically with your friends, use Zoom or Netflix Party to stream a movie together. Plan a night to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy back to back or the Scary Movie film series. Watching a movie together will be entertaining and help you connect and bond with your friends.

Break out the board games and play Jenga, Monopoly, Clue – or whatever you have!

Playing games is a fun and exciting way to relax. Embrace your competitive side in a friendly game of Scrabble or Cards Against Humanity. Play for something fun like choosing dessert or $100. Make the game even more fun with teams and keeping score. The goal is to have some friendly competition to relax and keep your mind off your college applications.

College Application Experts

Putting together a strong application that you are confident and optimistic about is one way to have a positive outlook on what will happen after submitting your college applications. Instead of wondering how long it will take to hear back from a college application, join us at AdmissionSight to learn the ins and outs of the admissions process and increase your chances of success.


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