Originally published in Hindustan Times, Education Supplement
Happy New Year! Most college applications for the US and the second round MBA applications have been submitted by now. There are a few stray applications that are due in Mid January or February, but for the most part all should have been submitted. And for UK universities the UCAS deadline is on January 15th. So now, with the bulk of the work behind you, what should you be doing until April 1st when you get the decisions?
For the next few months you should focus on follow up: After your applications have gone out there may be important updates about your profile that you want to share with colleges. E.g. improved grades or test scores, awards or honors, extra curricular achievements, etc. If you have some good news that you think may work in favor of your application forward it to the college admissions department. Remember to reference your application number on any communication so that the material is handled properly.
Also if you have met anyone at the college or a representative at a college fair, January is a good time to send them an update saying “It was so nice meeting you back in November (or whatever), and learning about X University. I wanted to let you know that I submitted my application and I look forward to hearing from you soon. If there is anything I can offer to supplement or clarify my application materials please do not hesitate to conact me directly…” A quick email like this reminds the person of who you are, lets them know you took your meeting seriously and that you are a sincere candidate.
Another important follow up measure is to check online or through whatever mechanism to ensure that you application is complete. I have had several applicants whose applications were never even considered because an transcript or recommendation did not reached the college or was misplaced. Clerical errors happen! It may not be your fault, but it is your responsibility and most colleges have a system whereby you can check to make sure you application is complete. Also if you have applied to any colleges that communicate by traditional ‘snail’ mail (USC for example) keep especially close track of them. By the time their request for information reaches India, it may be too late.
In January you should also be preparing for any interviews that might come up. Selective colleges (e.g. Univeristy of Pennsylvania, Georgetown, Yale, Columbia, Brown etc.) will conduct alumni interviews with as many applicants as possible. If you applied to any of these, continue your research and prepare basic answers to questions like “why did you apply to X University” and stay updated on the latest campus news (almost every college homepage has a link to “news” or you can subscribe to their news feed). See my previous column from Dec 12th for more tips on interviews.
And finally do not forget that most admissions you will eventually get are conditional upon maintaining a certain academic performance. So over the next few months continue to study hard, keep your grades up and stay academically engaged.
If you are in class 11 and planning to apply to college abroad next year look for my next column where I’ll share planning tips that can help you get a head start on the process!