College applications are in for the 2014/15 school year. So what happens after you push the submit button? Well, it can be complicated, but at most colleges applications are read by a committee, evaluated and given points for each part of the application. Many universities report spending about 30 minutes or more on each application.
Grades, and rigor of classes are given the most weight, and then test scores and college essays. Most private colleges, and some public, use holistic review and look at activities, letters of recommendations and volunteer work. Legacy students, athletes, and students with exceptional talents are given extra attention.
But admission may be more subjective than students realize. Colleges are looking for students who will fit in and contribute positively to their campuses. And this could change year-to-year. One year they could be looking for a varsity swimmer, the next year a flute player for the orchestra. Colleges try to build a student body that is well rounded, ethnically diverse and from different parts of the country.
Colleges have four choices when reviewing applications. They can admit, deny, wait list the student, or admit the student for spring semester. If you are wait listed, it means that you are too strong a candidate to deny, but the college did not have enough space to admit you. Wait lists are not ranked and each college has different policies regarding taking students off the wait list.
Even perfect test scores and grades don’t guarantee admission at some of the most elite colleges and universities. Over fifty percent of Stanford University’s applicants over the past five years with SATs of 2400—the highest score possible—didn’t get in. It can be incredibly heart breaking for students when they discover that a student with lower SAT scores and less extracurricular activities got admitted over them.
After submitting their applications, it is vital that students check their emails and student accounts at each college they applied to. Often colleges need additional information and failure to respond could jeopardize admission or financial aid. In addition, it is the student’s responsibility to send their SAT/ACT scores and transcripts to each college.
Students must maintain good grades even after the application is submitted, and let colleges know if they drop a class, or receive less than a C in college prep classes (by thomson). As a high school counselor, it was always heartbreaking to see a college rescind their acceptance after a student received poor grades, or had disciplinary issues. After hitting the submit button, students still have a responsibility to maintain their positive academic standing.