This crazy year of 2020 just doesn’t seem to be getting any easier, does it? You’ve quarantined for the pandemic, sweated out natural disasters, and still put in the effort to keep your grades up despite unprecedented educational challenges. Then you went all in on the college admissions and financial aid process.
You committed the time to narrowing your college dream list, and worked really hard to make sure those applications got in before the deadline. And now…crickets. You haven’t heard anything yet from your favorite college picks or, even worse, you have been notified that your application was declined or deferred.
This is a major disappointment for sure. It can feel like a fitting conclusion to 2020, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world or your college dream. So, go ahead and take some time to feel a little low, and then decide what you are going to do about this setback. You can take it as a sign that your whole life is going downhill, or you can decide that it’s time for action. Here are some suggestions to help create a back-up plan for your college admission strategy:
- Try a little patience: Unless it’s a downright “no,” there is still the possibility that you might be accepted in the second wave of application reviews. In some cases it’s not over until it’s over, so it might just be a matter of waiting a little longer. You can still make alternative back-up plans, but don’t give up hope completely if you had your heart set on one college.
- Reassess your initial strategy: Some students can get over-enthralled with one particular college in the rush to apply. You might not realize that it was out of your reach all along, or maybe you ignored another great college where you could be a standout student.
- Rethink your application: Try to take an honest look at your application (or have an unbiased outsider do it for you), and think about whether or not it really presented your potential in the best possible light. If not, it’s time to reconsider your application approach.
- Check out new possibilities: Go over your list of colleges again, and revisit those you might have overlooked the first time through. Look up their regular admission deadlines, and set your sights on applying to them in light of what you have learned. Who knows, this might even make a great essay to show how you deal with adversity!
- It could be you: It could be a harsh realization, but maybe you are just not a good college prospect right now. That doesn’t mean you will never be, though. You might want to consider starting with a two year college to bump up some of those skills so you can go back and reapply as a better student.
If you do apply to any colleges that were not on your original list – be sure to add those colleges to your completed FAFSA for the 2021-22 academic year. This gives them the opportunity to consider your financial circumstances, in the event you are accepted and do qualify for financial aid.
Another setback that can occur is that you do get accepted, but the financial aid offer is less than what you hoped to receive. You can reassess your situation, talk to your parents, or begin applying to scholarships to narrow the gap. The CFAA Scholarship Program can help you locate, organize and apply to 60 personalized scholarship opportunities. Be aware of any deadlines to accept your college’s offer, so you know how much time you have to look for additional funding.
Not getting accepted into your early decision or early action college choice can be a disappointment, but it does not have to ruin your senior year. There are steps you can take to make sure you’re having fun at a great college in the fall of ’21! For the latest financial aid information and college application to-do lists, look for my weekly JustAskJodi emails and check out my monthly CFAA e-newsletter.