You Submitted Your Early Applications. What’s Next?


You Submitted Your Early Applications. What’s Next?

Take a deep breath. For those of you who submitted Early Decision or Early Action applications, congrats! You’ve likely been working really hard for 4-6 months, putting together strong and compelling applications. In reality, you’ve probably been working hard for a lot longer than that—taking rigorous classes, maintaining a competitive GPA, participating in meaningful extracurriculars, and becoming an overall stellar student (and person!). Hitting submit for your early applications is a tremendous accomplishment.

So, take a deep breath, hit pause, and do something fun to clear your mind. You deserve it.

3-4 days later…

Unfortunately, decisions for your early applications don’t come out until mid-December. There isn’t much time (~2 weeks) between finding out if you got in or not and the regular decision deadlines. This means that you absolutely must pick back up your application work now!

In the months between submitting your early applications and regular decision deadlines, here is exactly what you need to be doing:

1. Check your application status on school websites. Make sure that everything worked properly and keep track of the statuses of your early applications.


2. Monitor your emails. Schools may contact you during this time. They might ask for additional information from you—transcript, financial certificate, test scores, etc. They might also reach out to schedule an interview. So, read your emails! And then do what admissions offices ask of you in a timely manner.


3. Watch out for sneaky deadlines. Don’t forget about the schools with deadlines in-between the typical date for early applications (November 1st) and the typical regular decision deadline (January 1st). Make sure you know the exact deadlines for all of your schools. Here are some popular regular (not early) deadlines you don’t want to miss:


  University of Washington  November 15th
  Penn State (Priority)  November 30th
  University of California  November 30th
  University of Texas  December 1st
  University of Connecticut (Priority)  December 1st
  Clemson (Priority)  December 1st
  University of Southern California (For Merit Scholarship)  December 1st
  University of San Diego  December 15th


4. Collect and organize your supplemental essays. Create a document or spreadsheet to keep track of all of the questions you have to answer for your regular decision applications. Then, take a step back and try to find patterns. While some schools (like UChicago), have very specific and quirky supplemental essays, many share common themes. You’re likely to come across a lot of “Expand on one of your extracurricular activities,” “Why this major?,” or “When/how did you first get interested in our school” essays. Once you group and organize your supplemental essays, you’ll see how much content you can reuse, leading to a much more efficient application process.


5. Write your supplemental essays. Getting these essays wrong leads to bad results. And getting these supplements right takes time! Start doing your school research for your favorite colleges—go on their websites, register for webinars, attend admissions events, talk to people who currently attend or graduated, check their social media pages, and watch their YouTube videos. To write a strong supplemental essay, you must have a deep understanding of the school and its philosophies, and then tailor your candidacy to demonstrate strong school fit. These blogs will help you get started: Tackling the Dartmouth Essay Prompts, Strategizing the UChicago Essays, How to Approach the Stanford Essays.


6. Update your Honors and Activities Lists. You want to make sure that your resume is up-to-date. If you just received an academic honor, add it to the Common App honors section. If your research paper just got published by an academic journal, update your research activity on your Common App activities list. If your basketball scoring average jumped by 6 points, update your description accordingly. Put yourself in the best position to succeed by updating your lists. Positive updates only please!

7. Schedule an interview. For some schools, you can register for an interview on the website. While these interviews don’t weigh heavily on admissions decisions, they do give you an opportunity to demonstrate your interest and to get to know the school a bit better. For international students, these interviews will give you a chance to show that you are who you say you are and that your English is up-to-par.

8. Keep your grades up and stay out of trouble! No slacking please. And don’t do anything that can get you into trouble. We all remember the 10+ Harvard admits who had their acceptances rescinded for obscene memes. Don’t let this happen to you!

9. Re-evaluate your early applications. If you put a lot of time, effort, and strategy into your early applications, then don’t doubt yourself and ignore this step. If you left your application until the very last minute and know that you can do better, then revisit your early applications. Read it several times. Have your friends and family read it. Ask a professional to read it. Self-reflect. Identify areas for improvement and then put in the time necessary to improve them.

It’s tempting to sit back, relax, and hope for the best after you submit your early applications. But doing so in this incredibly competitive admissions landscape would be unwise. So take a quick break and then get moving again. You’re almost there. Good luck!

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