What to Do After You’ve Submitted Your College Applications

The following guest post was written by Raj Patil, one of the co-founders at Admissionado, a premier college admissions consulting company focused on helping students get into their dream schools.

College applications are the culmination of a few-month process. In fact, the commitment and sacrifice began on Day 1 of high school (and honestly, long before even that). The hard part is over and done with. If there’s an appropriate time to sweat and stress out about getting something absolutely perfect, that time has passed!

And yet, the school year hasn’t ended. There are deferments, waitlists, rejections, and acceptances to deal with. So, now that the college application part has concluded, what now?

January - mid-March: The grey zone

The months of January and February and part of March typically sit between the submission of the college apps and the decisions associated with them. Is there a correct thing to focus on during this period?

Yes: “Stop focusing on stuff.”

Well, almost—don’t let your grades slide. If you were to belly flop, it may send the wrong signal to schools that say “yes” on the premise that you’re precisely the kind of kid who “won’t let things slide.” So, keep your hands on the wheel, but don’t stress too much. Sure, attend that social event you may have chosen not to attend a few weeks ago. Jam a little longer with your bandmates. That kind of thing.

In other words, enjoy being a senior in high school. Something profound is going to change when you go to college. For most folks, this is the real inflection point from adolescence to adulthood, dependence to independence. There’s also something to be said about burnout: now is not the time.

Mid-March: Stay calm

Fun’s over. You’re going to sweat, and you have every reason to. But given the circumstances, this is actually a great version of stress. It means that you’re invested in the outcome. How could you not be? This anticipation of whether that envelope (or email) says a certain thing…is actually one of the joys of life, and there’s simply no substitute for it. Is it always fun? Nope. It can be positively gutting. But the point is, don’t worry if you’re freaking out with anticipation. It’s more than called for.

[RELATED: 6 Surprising Things About Senior Year of High School]

Mid-March - early April = “And the verdict is…”

And then, just like that, the decisions come out. Usually in waves: letters, emails, whatever new way they decide to use, etc. And it’s going to be either 1.) great news, or 2.) not-so-great news. Waitlists aren’t inning-ending, but they are not always bankable either.

If you have even one admit, take pride! You at least have the choice of attending a college in the fall. Now, you may be waitlisted at a higher-ranked school and do everything in your power to get off that waitlist, or you may have your heart set on a different program and make it your mission to work extra hard during freshman year at another college in hopes of transferring a year later—but no matter how you look at it, you have a choice. Congrats.

[RELATED: 5 Ways to Make Your College Decision Easier]

If you have more than one admit, congrats as well! Now, you can choose between programs. Here, the algorithm is simple: Separate your admits into echelons and begin to evaluate. If in your highest echelon, you have more than one choice, you can now really get specific. You can look at factors like location, extracurricular opportunities, student to faculty ratio, etc.

But what happens if you get flat-out rejected from every school you’ve applied to? What if have zero choices at the end of the day? It’s natural and okay to feel bad and have regrets. Those emotions are normal, but it’s not the end of the road. There are tons of other gears you can tap into, depending on your resources and your particular ambitions. Gap years are not uncommon, for instance; pursue some great volunteer opportunities, take some online classes, enroll in more classes at a local community college—whatever it is, choose opportunities wisely to position yourself well for whatever your next move will be. Want to apply again in a year? Figure out exactly what you need to do to augment your portfolio in order to make that happen.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.