The secret you need to know for submitting your college applications

Attention high school seniors! You may have already submitted your college applications or you are about to submit them.

Before you sit back and wait for your admissions decisions, you need to do one more thing:

Check to make sure each college received all of your materials.

Even though you submitted your application, you always want to follow up to ensure your part of the application and any materials your school sent on your behalf were received. As streamlined as online applications are, there are still processing issues every so often. Sometimes your materials don’t make it into your file.

"Follow up is imperative once you submit your college applications" TWEET THIS

Here are a six important points about following up with colleges:

  1. Most colleges have application portals. You can check to see what materials the college has and what they still need. Keep in mind that sometimes processing time can take a few weeks before the portal indicates your materials were received.
  2. If something is missing but you know it was sent, contact the Admissions Office directly by calling the main number. Talking to a live person is almost always more effective than using the portal which may be delayed and may not be able to give you detailed information.
  3. If you sent your test scores but the college hasn't received them, check the status of the scores on the College Board or ACT websites. Then contact the admissions office to find out your options until your official scores reach them. In some cases, you can share unofficial test scores by self-reporting them on the application or sending an email until the official score report arrives. In other cases, you or your guidance counselor can send a screen shot of your test scores.
  4. Contact your guidance counselor or teacher if the college is missing your transcript, school profile, or any letters of recommendation. Many times, the school’s materials were sent. If necessary, your guidance counselor can re-submit the materials through a different mode of communication to ensure the college has them on file.
  5. Keep in mind that most public/state institutions have strict deadlines. They may not accept materials past the deadline even if it’s not your fault. So make sure you follow up with the college well before the deadline.
  6. Private colleges and universities are usually more flexible with deadlines, especially for materials coming from the high school on your behalf. But don’t take advantage of their flexibility. Everything in your application has a date of receipt on it. It’s one thing for a letter of recommendation to come in late; it’s more concerning when the student’s portion of the application arrives late.

BONUS: Can teachers really help you get into college?


One of the most important things about the college application process is that it is driven by the student. Your guidance counselor can help you along the way, but it is up to you to ensure your application is complete and ready to be evaluated on time. Most guidance counselors have large caseloads. They can’t follow up with hundreds of colleges for all the students they work with.

It is ultimately up to the student to do that follow-up and make sure their application is complete. You will sleep better knowing that you did your due diligence and your applications are not only submitted, but received as well!