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You've Submitted Your Early Applications. Now What?

Congratulations seniors!

You got through the November 1st deadlines for many Early Decision and Early Action programs. Now what?

Give yourself a few days to recalibrate—I sure need to! Focus on schoolwork, competing in the championship game, watching those leaves turn colors or pile up outside your bedroom window, sleeping, and then sleeping some more.
Then, look at the next set of deadlines. Many small liberal arts colleges have November 15th deadlines for Early Decision. And many honors programs deadlines tend to be around December 1st. 
Check your admissions portals on a regular basis for all the colleges you have already applied to. This is where you find out if anything is missing, if your application is complete, and then later on, what your admissions decision is. It is up to the student to ensure their application is complete. If not, it can be pushed to the Regular Decision round or the application never gets evaluated.
Check your email regularly too. Admissions officers could follow up with you for additional information via email. Interview requests (if a college offers them) are usually sent directly to the student via email. You don't want to miss an opportunity to express your interest in a college. 
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is delayed this year, but it is supposed to be available starting in December. If you are applying for financial aid, you must fill this out and submit it by each college's financial aid deadline. In the meantime, some colleges use the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA. Check deadlines for the Profile—it will vary college by college.
If you haven't started working on applications and supplements for Early Decision II or Regular Decision, this is a good time to start. Because Early Decision I programs don't release admissions results until mid-December and most Early Action programs wait until January to release admissions results, students need to get a head start as they don't know if their "early" results will be positive. Most Early Decision II and Regular Decision deadlines will be around January 1st. If students want to have a true holiday break, they will need to get everything done in advance of Christmas and New Year's.

READ MORE: 10 Truths for Every Parent About the College Admissions Process

This college admissions process is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes focus, fortitude, and sustained commitment. Just when you think you have reached the finish line, it extends a little further. Deferrals, waitlists, surprise essays after you submit your application, and interviews may still be in your future. No matter what, though, put one foot in front of the other and you will cross that finish line soon.