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What (not) To Do After You Submit Your College Applications

Stephen Friedfeld, Ph.D

Congratulations to those who have just submitted early action or early decision applications. It is completely natural to want to go back and review your application, just to get a good look at what you’ve submitted to colleges, but without the pressure of a deadline hanging over you.

Don’t do it. Resist the temptation.

The reason? You will almost certainly find an error. Approximately 99% of applications have at least one error – even applications to the most selective colleges and universities. Are applications rejected because of a minor error or two? Absolutely not. If an application is riddled with errors, then that’s a different story. But just like one part of the application – say, the ACT or SAT score – does not determine the decision, neither does a typographical or formatting error.

The following two scenarios are very common; don’t let them happen to you.

1.    You review the application because you did not heed this warning, and you find a minor error or two. You cannot sleep for days on end, and the weeks until you hear back from colleges become even more painful than they already are.

2.    You find a minor error on an application that has already been submitted and you decide to contact the admissions office to (a) alert it of the error or (b) ask to re-submit the application, say, via email or the post office. The admissions office will not allow a resubmission of the application nor will it find your application to make the correction for you. Instead, you will be pointing out an error that, in all likelihood, the admissions committee would not have found!

Keep in mind that admissions officers are reading applications rather quickly to get through the volume, so they might not see minor errors. Further, they do not read with a red pen in hand, circling errors (like your English teacher might). Instead, admissions officers want to get to know you as an applicant and as a potential member of their academic community – so they will take a holistic approach to reviewing your essays, your letters of recommendation, your grades and your scores.

What can you do instead of re-reading your already-submitted application? You can track your application’s status online (for most universities). This is a better use of your time – making sure that your application has been received by a university and is complete. If there is a letter of recommendation missing, then you can find the letter writer and have that letter sent. If the transcript somehow was not received, the school counselor can re-send it.

What else can you do while you’re waiting to hear back from the early action and early decision colleges? Work on your regular decision applications and essays – you never know if you’ll be admitted and you don’t want to start writing essays and completing applications after December 15. It makes for a miserable holiday season.

(Stephen is the COO of AcceptU (www.AcceptU.com), a college admissions counseling group that connects applicants with former admissions officers. He has 10+ years of admissions experience at Cornell University and Princeton University. )

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