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Did you just spend most of your holiday break finishing your college applications and hitting submit just before the application deadlines? Maybe you even decided at the last minute not to apply to a few of your Common App reach schools because they had so many additional required essays about weird topics? And now that college app season is over, what comes next?

Well, first of all, congratulations! You have reached a new milestone in your education path. What comes next is out of your hands, so you can sit back, relax, breathe freely, and enjoy the next few months of your senior year…or can you? While the application crunchtime is over, you should still be prepared for:


Several competitive schools offer alumni interviews – either in person locally or remotely. While these interviews rarely carry much weight in the admissions decisions, they can tip the balance, hopefully in your favor.

What you can do to prepare for these interviews:

  • review your application and resume prior to the interview
  • review the college or university’s website so you can ask informed questions
  • brush up on your interview skills, including
    • what to wear
    • how to make great eye contact
    • how to give a confident handshake
    • how to follow up with a polite thank you note


Keep checking those application portals: did your teachers and counselors all submit their letters of recommendation? Were your transcripts successfully submitted, or were they lost in the mail? Were all the Financial Aid forms successfully submitted? Did you win a new impressive award? If so, consider contacting the admissions offices and submit the new impressive details to add to your file.

Keep all your plans actively moving forward. If you were admitted early to your back-up school with rolling admissions, and their housing options are highly competitive, consider putting down the deposit to ensure you would get good housing if you end up at that school. However, make sure you read the fine print with their deposit terms and only make a deposit if the terms are nonbinding and in good faith. On top of that, you may need to be willing to lose that deposit if another, better acceptance letter arrives later.

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Millions of dollars in school-specific and general scholarships are up for grabs each year. These scholarships can really help make college more affordable. At this point, you and your parents will likely have to complete the FAFSA and, for some colleges, the CSS Profile and IDOC as well. Look closely at the Financial Aid page for all the colleges you applied to and see if there are any specific scholarships available for which you would be qualified. Oftentimes, these more specific scholarships that are available for only that school are the ones that are most likely to be fruitful.

Look for outside scholarships too. There are a lot of scholarship clearinghouse lists available online – but be aware: You NEVER have to pay to apply for any scholarships.

As tired as you are after completing your college applications, try to find the energy to apply for scholarships too. You may be thinking, “I’ll scream if I have to write one more essay for a scholarship!” But think of it this way: If that 1 hour spent writing another essay ends up awarding you a seemingly modest $1000 scholarship, there are not that many jobs that pay a thousand dollars an hour! Ask your school’s college counselor for recommendations of the most likely to win scholarships. (Hint: those big-ticket, highly competitive scholarships might not be fruitful. But the $1000 Elks scholarships are awarded locally and frequently.)

Find your Zen

Don’t worry, they say! Relax, they say! Easier said than done, but you really should try to find your inner Zen and wait patiently until decisions are released. It’s your senior year, after all, and you should enjoy it! You’re the top dog in the school right now, and high school will be over before you know it.

Perhaps most helpful for finding your inner Zen is the realization that you will end up where you belong. Maybe you get into your dream school, and the rest is history. Or perhaps you end up at your second or third choice school. Remember that if you are denied admission to a highly-competitive school, it doesn’t mean that you were not qualified – it may just reflect that the school needed a tuba player rather than a flute player. Getting denied admission is not a reflection on who you are, or that you are not good enough. Rather, it’s a wildly complicated numbers game where you’re not entirely in control.

Wherever you end up at college, you’ll end up at a school where you belong! You will find your community and your people, and you will find your next home. There is not just one path to happiness in college. You’ll write the next chapter in your own story wherever you end up for college.

And part of the way through your freshman year in college, if you’re still not happy, you could always consider transferring (look for a post about that in the future).

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