For some, the long awaited admissions notifications have already arrived. For the remainder of the roughly 2.5 million college hopefuls, now until May 1st is the period during which they will have their answers. At stake is the decision of where they will plant their feet and eat their meals for the next four years. For most, the days of taking tests (except for APs which are given in May), filling out applications, writing essays, assembling portfolios, and collecting recommendations are all but over. Now, the waiting game now begins; for most, the waiting is the hardest part.
But it is no game. It is serious business—and students all the way from Connecticut to California, continually stalk their mailboxes in hopes of spotting the large envelope from the college of their dreams. Some dare to dream of ivy walls or concert halls. Some brace for rejection, all the while frustrated by the fact that the decision that will color their resumes forever rests in the hands of a few admissions officials whose days are spent doling out seemingly random decisions about who will enter their hallowed hallways. These are the gatekeepers, the dream weavers, the grim reapers, the anonymous ones.
Here are a few tips to help pass the time:
- For students who have not yet heard from their top choice schools, don’t be afraid to find a reason to stay in touch. Perhaps once every week or two, call or e-mail with a new question or accomplishment. Don’t be a stalker – but be sure to show how interested you are in becoming a member of its student body.
- Remember to meet deadlines for financial aid. The CSS Profile is a form used by many private colleges. Go to http://student.collegeboard.org/css-financial-aid-profile to fill out the form. There is a fee to file it.
- There is no fee to fill out the government’s form used by almost all colleges and universities in the United States. Go to https://fafsa.ed.gov/ to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can use income estimates from 2013, and can update it with actual figures when your 2013 taxes have been filed.
- Finally, as you receive your offers, begin to rank them. If financial aid is an important factor, weigh your scholarship and aid packages more heavily. If a certain location, program or instructor is important, measure those factors accordingly. Acceptance management is even more important than creating your college list. It will, after all, be the final determining factor in where you will park your clothes for the next four years. Good luck to all college hopefuls!