The holidays are coming. Pumpkins! Turkeys! Presents! And before you know it 2015 will be here. Don’t lose sight of your college application. There are a lot of pieces to keep track of—including test scores, college application essays, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and more.
Not only do you need to complete these, you also have to follow up on them. The key is to stay organized. Check your email every day over the next few months. Schools send emails to confirm receipt of information, tell you if there are problems, set up interviews, and even send you acceptances!
After you send in your application: Mark off the date you sent it in. Most schools send an email confirmation within a few days. DO NOT THROW AWAY THIS EMAIL. Put it and anything you receive from a college into a special email folder for college correspondence. This email may contain log in information for a portal through which you can check your application status.
Check your status periodically. Items like transcripts and test scores take time to be processed, but if your application is not complete within a few weeks of sending all the pieces, call the school to follow up. Do not procrastinate. An incomplete application will result in a likely rejection.
After you apply for financial aid: Follow up on the status of your FAFSA. If you submit it online, three to five days after you submit your FAFSA, the office of Federal Student Aid will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR). If you mail the FAFSA in and they do not have a valid e-mail address for you on file, your SAR will be mailed within 7 to 10 days. Once your application has been processed, you’ll get a chance to check the form for errors, make corrections, and add/delete schools you want to receive an application. Make any corrections right away, before you forget about them. If you do not receive the SAR, contact FAFSA customer service at https://fafsa.ed.gov/help.htm.
After asking for transcripts and recommendation letters: Two weeks (or more) before your application deadline check with everyone you asked to write you a recommendation. Confirm that they wrote the letter and sent it in. For the Common App letters, check the “School Forms” tab for what has – and has not – been downloaded by the school. It’s your responsibility to make sure your transcripts and letters of recommendation get written and sent in by the deadline.
After an interview: Send a thank you note a few days after the interview. Thank the interviewer for speaking with you and reiterate your interest in the school. Make sure the letter is written professionally and politely. Your job of impressing the interviewer doesn’t end when the interview is over. End note: With some organization, your application process should go smoothly. Millions of students have successfully gone on to college, and you can too.