Surviving the Waiting Period: What Students Should Do After Submitting College Applications

By Catherine Groux
Posted July 06, 2012 08:04 AM

Students can survive the waiting period with these tips.
Students can survive the waiting period with these tips.
When students submit their college applications in the hopes of earning a bachelor's or associate's degree, the dreaded waiting period begins. During this time, many individuals develop anxiety, as they realize it will be weeks or months until they know if they were accepted to their dream school. To ease their concern, Patrick O'Connor - former president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling and author of the book College is Yours 2.0 - recently offered his advice.

How Do Students Know They've Submitted Everything?

Today, as most students apply to colleges online, they will probably receive an email stating that their application has been received. For students who fill out the Common Application, or Common App, O'Connor said this process is even easier. This online application allows students to see when their schools downloaded their files, letting them rest assured that their whole application has been received.

Typically, if schools are missing any part of students' applications, they will email them to let them know. O'Connor said this makes it important for degree seekers to check their email often after submitting college applications, carefully monitoring their junk and spam folders in particular.

How Long Should It Take to Get a Response From a School?

In general, O'Connor said it depends on the school. If students apply to a college that has rolling admissions, this means the institution will review their application as soon as they can after it has been received. Under this system, students could expect a response about six to eight weeks after submitting their application.

Other schools operate on traditional calendars, so their admissions process is slightly different. At Ivy League schools, for example, students typically have to submit their applications by January 1, O'Connor said. However, no matter how long before that strict deadline individuals submitted their application, the school will only review it after January 1. Then, these schools let all students know on the same day - usually at the end of March - whether they have been accepted. 

After Submitting Applications, What Else Should Students Do?

When students submit all of their applications, O'Connor said they should dive back into their coursework, keeping in mind that their colleges will probably want to see a copy of their final high school transcript. However, O'Connor also believes it is important for students to spend time with friends and family, taking advantage of everything high school has to offer.

"During the waiting period, the best thing you can do is go back to enjoying your senior year," he said. "I often tell students that applying to colleges is an important thing, but it's not supposed to be the only thing in your life during senior year. Colleges really want you to make the most of the social and academic opportunities that senior year [provides]."

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