You have done your research and selected several colleges that appeal to you by reputation or tradition. You read the application directions carefully, and complete all the necessary paperwork. Everything is perfect, so you put you applications in the mail or submit them online. Then you sit back and prepare to wait. Right? Wrong! Your work is only half done.
The next thing you should do is learn how the application process works at the schools to which you applied. Remember that the process will be different depending on whether you applied online or submitted your application by mail. If you are supposed to receive an email or postcard acknowledging receipt of your application within two weeks, give it three. Be sure to take into account how long it will take the colleges to receive your transcripts. You should receive notice from each school that the transcripts were sent. If the deadline to receive acknowledgement has passed, contact the admissions office. Ask if the transcripts were received, and make sure the school has everything it needs to consider your application.
If there is a date by which you should receive notice about your status, contact the admissions office several weeks before that date. You cannot afford to wait and discover something has gone wrong, and it is too late to fix it in order to be able to enroll when you wanted to.
If you think that colleges and universities handle their end of the application smoothly, think again. There are times that paperwork is lost, routed improperly, or stuck at the bottom of a to-do pile. The only way you can make sure your application gets through the process is to check up on it.
How to Keep Tabs on Your Application
There are two places you can contact. Of course, the first is the admissions office. The second is the department for the major you have chosen.
If you have not selected a major, you will have to rely on the admissions office. There is a difference between making sure things are being handled properly and being a pest. If you call the office and speak to an individual who assures you your application is in the queue, that is probably all you can do. Some applications will still run into a roadblock, but you have done what is reasonable to make sure one of them is not yours.
If you have identified a major, the department that offers that degree should see your application in order to determine if you will be accepted as a major. It is possible to be accepted by the school but not by the department that interests you. It is also possible, at some schools, to be accepted by the department but not by the school. It happens. If you are in contact with the department, and they have not seen your application within a reasonable time, it should be easy for them to contact admissions and ask where the application is. That should take care of everything.
While it is possible that admissions departments everywhere will cringe when this article appears, there are many people who have been forced to delay entering school because their application was lost. Do not let it happen to you.
Priscilla Jones works in the admissions office for The College City. In her spare time, she works as a freelance writer.