Seniors, your college applications may be in, but your work is not over.
As the decisions start coming in, including key financial information, you will need to process and act on a lot of complex information to reach a final decision on where to attend college.
Here are some key actions you need to take during second semester to ensure you join the collegial Class of 2025.
Most colleges require you to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After you submitted your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report or SAR. Review this carefully and verify that everything is accurate. Discrepancies on this form may result in the loss of thousands of dollars in financial aid.
Start exploring financial aid and scholarships at the colleges to which you applied. By the time you start receiving acceptance letters, you are going to want to have a grasp of how much you can save, and aid packages can differ a great deal from school to school.
You will want to make sure you have researched the school’s financial aid webpage. Some schools will also require your parents to complete the CSS profile. Many schools have a hard deadline in January or February.
Visit these websites to learn more about the differences between Financial Aid with the Federal Government and Scholarships:
If you applied to a school through early decision and are accepted, you will need to notify the other schools to which you applied. Doing this promptly will help them open up your seat to another applicant.
As soon as possible, send your first-semester grades to every school to which you have applied that was not early action. If you have been deferred, you will need to send your mid-year grades as well. If your high school grades started out poor but steadily improved, your senior year transcript is a way for you to demonstrate this upward trend.
Remember: It is CRITICAL to maintain your grades. Colleges require your final transcript. If your grades drop significantly, you risk your acceptance being rescinded.
Most colleges will send you a confirmation that your application has been received and is being processed. If you have not received confirmation for any of your applications, contact the school to confirm its receipt as soon as possible.
Acceptance, rejection, and waitlist letters may start arriving as early as February or March. In most cases, you will have until the end of April to make a decision. Do not worry if you have not received any letters by the end of February though, because it is common for letters to go out in April as well.
Schools are supposed to send you their decision by April 1st, but if you applied to a school with rolling admissions or a late deadline, you might not hear back by this date.
If you are accepted to multiple schools, weigh all your options before making a final choice. Talk with your parents, family members, teachers, mentors, and friends. Take a good hard look at the costs and how you will finance it, including any financial aid and cost of living expenses at each school. If possible, revisit campuses and connect again with contacts you made at the schools you are considering. Now that you have been accepted, your perspective will be vastly different, and you can ask much more detailed questions.
Notify Other Schools
Once you have made your decision, notify the other schools that accepted you as soon as possible. They will have plenty of waitlist applicants anxiously waiting for seats to open up.
Most colleges will host spring open houses for incoming freshmen either virtually or on campus. Find out when this is scheduled and take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the school directly from current students. You may also make friends before the school year even starts! With the possibility of continued distance learning, having connections with peers who already have experience at the school can be immensely valuable while you are trying to get up to speed first semester.
If you were rejected from a school, you may be able to appeal the decision. This is an extremely rare occurrence and only applies to certain circumstances. If you feel you may have a chance to appeal, research that school's admissions policies and talk to your high school guidance counselor.
Final Decision Deadline
You must make a final decision by May 1st. When you make a decision, you will be required to submit a deposit. You may have already signaled your intent to enroll, but now it is time to commit financially. Your acceptance letter should include all the details.
If you have been taking Advanced Placement classes, you will be taking your national exams in May. If you know your college will accept AP scores for college credit, this is a huge opportunity that you should not let go to waste. Some students begin college with parts of their freshman requirements fulfilled through AP credits. AP exams are not mandatory because of the cost involved.
Thank You Letters
You did not get here by yourself. Chances are many people helped with your college applications. Take the time to write personalized thank you letters, especially to guidance counselors and teachers who wrote letters of recommendation. They will appreciate the gratitude and will be happy to know where you enrolled.
Congratulations 2021 Graduate!