What Do I Do Now?: The Aftermath of College Applications

By Autumn Shelton
It is 11:59pm. Your computer’s blue light burns into your retinas as you nervously click the submit button at the bottom of the screen. After hours of editing essays, asking for recommendations, and perfecting your extracurriculars, you have just submitted the culmination of your high school career: your college application. Although instantly the feeling of relief rush through your veins, a small voice pops into your head: What do I do now?

As the college application process nears its end for the high school class of 2021, many may experience the scenario discussed above. For many, the college application process is practically a full-time job with its all-consuming requirements. However, while the discussion on how to perfect one’s application is vast, there seems to be collective amnesia over what to do after one’s application is submitted. Instead of resting on your laurels, here is what you should do after you hit submit.

1. Grades Still Matter

You finally finished one of the largest steps in your college journey, but the road doesn’t end here. For most high school seniors, there is at least 4 or 5 months left before the end of the school year. Meaning, you can’t stop caring about school now that you submitted the application. Not only do many colleges require an end of year grade report, but some scholarships may be dependent on your grades as well.

You after keeping your grades up:
2. Scholarships and Financial Aid

Fun fact: College is expensive. Between tuition, room and board, and the myriad of other necessities, one year can cost a family tens of thousands of dollars. Luckily, financial aid and scholarships exist for this very purpose. Starting with financial aid, if your school didn’t require you to complete the FAFSA in order to apply, do it ASAP. It’s free money plus it gives your university (and you!) a better picture of what aid they will give you. Additionally, schools (or at least mine did) have their own financial aid portal you should complete as well. Besides financial aid, right now would be a phenomenal time to apply to scholarships. This is the time to see what local, state, and national scholarships you fit the criteria for and start drafting those applications. Use this extra time for your advantage because many scholarships require almost as many requirements as a college application. If you need any ideas on good scholarships to apply to, the JIF blog has recently started a series highlighting several. Here’s a link to the most recent post: Future of Schools Scholarship Program

3. Research, Research, Research

Hopefully you researched about the schools you applied to before submitting your application, but don’t stop your research now. Once you get in, reanalyze the schools’ websites, talk to your guidance counselor for advice, and attend any programming (virtual or in person) you can. Another tool that helped me research my different options was YouTube. Often student YouTubers will give honest opinions and tips about the college which can give more insight.

4. Think of the Future and the Present

Finally, plan for the future and remember life can change at any moment. As a student who graduated in the middle of the pandemic, although I am happy I worked hard my senior year, I wish I took more time to enjoy the high school senior experiences you can’t have in college. No, I’m not telling you to only watch Netflix and Zoom-hangout with your friends this semester, but enjoy the little moments. They may end sooner than you thought.

Best of luck with the second semester and just remember to keep on saying this to yourself:

Autumn Shelton is currently a freshman at Princeton University and plans to attend law school after her undergraduate career. Her favorite things include home baked chocolate chip cookies, Robert Pattinson’s Oscar-deserving performance in Twilight, books on the history of Alaska, and her rather large collection of decks of cards from various places around the country.