Congratulations! You've submitted all your college applications. You no longer have to toil away on your personal statements or spend hours researching colleges. You have officially finished step 1, applying to college. Now onto step 2. 

There's a step 2? Yes. Step 2 might feel like a juggling act. That's because you're keeping a constant eye on your portal's to-do list and making sure you're filling out the requested documents while double-checking that you're sending them all in on time. These are the moments that will test your organizational skills as well as your ability to pay attention to detail.

College communication

Now it's time to set up your student portals for the respective colleges you applied to, if you haven't already done so. It is vital that you make sure to check on the portal daily. Your student portal will be the preferred method of communication between you and the college, which means they will most likely be sending you messages to your portal rather than direct emails. This is where your to-do list will be located, where you can find specific documents the college has requested, check if your admission status has been updated and much more.

Tip: To help you stay organized, create and save a document on the computer where you can jot down the username and password for each of your accounts. Another method is to neatly write them all down on a piece of paper and save a picture of it to your photo library on your cell phone.

Scholarships

If you haven't already begun to do so, start your quest to find and apply for scholarships! Believe me when I say that every penny counts. It does not matter how big or small the scholarship amount is, because in the end every dollar makes a difference. To start you off, check out unigo.com and collegegreenlight.com

Tip: To help you stay organized throughout this time, create a spreadsheet with different sections, such as: plan to apply, have applied, received, not received. This will allow you to track which scholarships you have applied to and any notes you've jotted down for each.

Financial aid applications

If you have not started on your financial-aid applications, visit fafsa.gov to start your FAFSA, and if you are applying for private colleges, check if the school requires the CSS Financial Aid PROFILE by visiting collegeboard.org. Make sure that you also follow up on any additional financial aid documents required by the specific college institution. 

Lastly, depending on where you live, check if there is a state grant for which you should be applying. The more money you can receive, the better!

Financial aid package

In the beginning, trying to understand financial aid packages can feel overwhelming and confusing. How much will it end up costing to go to college? What does subsidized mean? What will my family and I have to contribute? 

College financial aid offices work down to the wire every year to figure that out. You can expect to receive your financial aid offer around the time you begin to receive letters regarding your admission status. Don't panic if you don't see it immediately after being accepted; you have until May 1 to weigh your options and submit your Statement of Intent to Register. 

Tip: To prevent any further delay in receiving your financial aid package, make sure to submit any forms and/or documents that are requested by the financial aid office. They could be copies of your parents' tax returns or even a dependent verification form you may have to fill out. 

Campus visits

You might have done your research on the schools you applied for, but seeing the campus in person versus seeing the pictures on their website can reveal how you truly feel about each school. By visiting, you'll see what types of activities are happening, how the students are, and most importantly, you have the opportunity to imagine yourself there.

So, take the opportunity to visit the college campuses whether that's taking a campus tour by yourself or with your parents, or participating in fly-in programs. Various schools offer fly-in programs that provide the opportunity, for students who have been accepted, to visit and participate in an on-campus multi-day event. 

Official transcript

Colleges, depending on where you applied, will ask you to provide your seventh semester grades (first semester grades of your senior year). Again, the admissions office will notify you via your to-do list, which is located in your portal.

It's important to note if your school uses a different academic schedule, like the quarter system or trimester system. If your academic terms are different, contact the school that is requesting a transcript to find out if there are additional documents you have to send.

In the end, the waiting game doesn't have to mean anxiety-filled days. Instead of allowing the aggravation of waiting for decisions to take over, channel your energy into more productive behaviors. Take this time to show that you're able to take that next step toward higher education and that you're ready for what's to come.  

Champions of the unexpected.