HomeArticlesWhat’s Happening With Your College Applications?

Dear Estelle. Why does it take so long to receive replies from the colleges where I’ve applied? I submitted all my applications by January 15 and you’d think by now they could have read them and made a decision whether I’m accepted or rejected. The waiting is very difficult, my anxiety level is high and I’m having trouble sleeping. Surely there should be some answers by now. Jill J. Cherry Creek High School

You’re a college applicant and now all you can do is wait. What actually happens to your college application when it reaches the admissions office varies widely from school to school. It’s often dependent on the numbers of applications at each school, the levels of selectivity and the personal goals of each academic institution. Schools with “rolling” admissions make decisions on students’ applications as they come in, admitting those who are qualified.

Schools with volumes of applications often presort credentials electronically using a formula based on academic tests and GPA. Many selective colleges apply an index derived from a complex set of variables in order to prescreen applicants. Then, candidates who meet predetermined standards are referred to a committee for further review. This is where all the difficult decisions are made.

The committee reviews your transcript again and compares it to other students from your school. Will you be able to do the academic work? Then the committee examines your credentials more in depth. They look at your extracurricular activities, test scores and essays. They read your letters of recommendation, which can provide greater insight into the type of student you are and your personality. Will you fit it with the student body?

In March the admissions committee focuses on students who remain on the margin. What is the likelihood that you will enroll, if accepted? How are your third quarter grades? Will you be successful based on the amount of financial aid they’re expending for you? Also, it’s important to remember that the readers of applications develop a bias that can impact on the desirability of each candidate. It is frequently difficult to make distinctions about so many fine candidates so the process becomes arbitrary. Therefore it is important to remember that the application process starts with the schools you select, those that are a good fit for you . Typically, April 1 is the date you will hear from the colleges and your first choice is due back May 1.

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