College Application Follow-ups
Once you’ve submitted your applications, make sure that your hard work doesn’t all go to waste. Learn how to ensure that universities receive everything so that you can have peace of mind waiting for an admissions decision.
By ALEX LOVELESS
You’ve submitted all your college applications! This is a major accomplishment and you should be proud to have gotten this far in the process. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and everything should be mostly downhill from here. But there’s one more crucial step to take before relaxing too much.
Follow-ups for Your Applications
Ideally, you’ve submitted your college applications a week or two in advance of the deadline. We ask most of our students to aim for Oct. 15th for most early applications or Dec 15th for most regular decision applications. We want students to have ample time to ensure that every college on your list receives everything that they need before the deadline. From your end, this means your standardized test score reports (if they still require them), financial aid documents including FAFSA and the CSS Profile, supplemental materials you wish to submit (extra recommendations, art/music portfolios, research supplements, athletics supplements, etc), or “optional” portions of the application itself, like “optional” essays. This also includes documents from your high school as well: teacher recommendations, guidance counselor recommendations, mid-year reports, high school transcripts, or high school profiles. Princeton even requires that you submit a “graded written paper”.
The best way to know, for sure, that each and every school has received all your materials is to access the school’s admissions portal and see the application checklist they provide you. These portals will let you know exactly what has been received or not received. In order to get access to these portals before your deadline passes, it’s important to submit your applications early. For many universities, they do not send out emails with instructions to access their website portals many days or even weeks after you submit your application. This is why it’s important to submit applications much earlier than the deadlines.
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When you do get access to the application portal, it will look something like this:
Each school portal is different, but once you find the application checklist of received items, it should look something like this:
If anything is missing from your portal, make sure to address this problem as soon as possible. Again, if you didn’t submit your application until hours before the deadline, you won’t be getting access to this portal until after the deadline, and if there’s anything missing from your application, it’s too late to do anything about it. Some schools might have leniency for the timing of certain things, especially if it’s the fault of your high school, but do NOT count on this. If you do have time and your high school guidance counselor is the reason that something hasn’t been received yet, get your parents on the phone with the school ASAP. There’s no time to waste.
Be Careful and Be Thorough
The university admissions portals are there to help you see if all required parts of your application has been received. However, they may not alert you to any optional portions of your application that have not been received. This may include financial aid documents, art/music supplements, research supplements, additional letters of recommendation, or even essays. Some supplemental essays, like Harvard’s, are technically “optional”, so it may read on the admissions portal that everything has been received even though the “optional” supplemental has not been received. For a competitive school like Harvard, many of these “optional” aspects of the application are not really optional at all, and it’s important to keep track of these aspects of your application along with all required materials.
Checking the admissions portal is a great way to know whether things have been received or not, but it is not necessarily the only way. If you can’t wait to get access to a portal, you can double-check your college board account to see if you sent that score report. You can ask your guidance counselor if they submitted the mid-year report, transcript and all recommendations. You can also check on the Common Application to see if these things have been submitted by your counselor. You can also contact the admissions office directly to see if they’ve received everything they need.