What Happens After Submitting the Application?

by Bethany Goldszer | Last Updated: January 29, 2021

Table of Contents

Can I Demonstrate Interest After Submitting the Application?

A student recently asked me if there was anything he could do to influence a college admission decision after submitting the application. When a student interacts with a school or shows interest in the school via several activities, this is called “demonstrated interest.” According to a National Association for College Admissions Counseling survey, 50% of colleges consider a student’s demonstrated interest in the admissions process. Examples that demonstrate a student’s unique, heartfelt and genuine interest in a college includes:

  • Visiting the school, 
  • Calling the admissions office to ask meaningful questions.
  • Interviewing with a local alumnus, and 
  • Sending a thank you note to a college representative following a college fair.

The jury is out on the role it plays in college admissions. Usually, it’s before a student is submitting the college application when it’s talked about. So is it worth it to continue demonstrating interest after you apply?

 "... I finished submitting all my college applications. I'm suppose to hear back from my top schools in the next 2-3 weeks, although I want to make sure that I'm doing the most to demonstrate to those schools my interest in attending their institution. I'm not sure about what I should include in my email, because I'm afraid they might just read my email as a way to 'kiss A' to the school... so I want to make sure that if I'm going to write an email to them, I want to have a good balance between being both professional and authentic?"

Here’s what I advised him: it won’t hurt. 

After you submit, your DI strategy focuses on reiterating your interest in the school and being super grateful for considering your application. You’d show you appreciate the journey in getting to know the school. This strategy can be quite powerful for a middle of the road candidate who needs to add the human factor into the deliberation process to rise above other candidates. Below, I discuss quick and actionable ways to demonstrate interest in your top schools over the next few months.

Send a Thank You Card

I’m hoping that you know who your area representative is by now in the process before you are submitting the application. But if you haven’t, check the admissions website for their contact information. You’ll want to reach out with this nice touch. Find a tasteful card and write a message of thanks expressing your appreciation for them taking the time to read your application. In the card, you’d share your strong interest in the school, how much you enjoyed learning about all the school has to offer, and your excitement about the possibility of attending next fall. End the message by stating how much you look forward to hearing back a decision soon. What’s great about this message is you’re not assuming or putting pressure on the officer to say YES to you.

thank you letter

"Follow" the College on social media

In 2021, most admissions departments have social media channels. If you’re on the same channels, have you followed them? If not, this is a perfect opportunity to connect, like, and follow admissions staff, even after submitting the application. You can stay up to date on research, current happenings, their work in the community, campus news, etc. The visual optics of your participation in online conversations show your interest, intellect, and readiness to participate in campus life.

Set up a Virtual Visit

In person visits are likely out, but you can always do a virtual visit in the comfort of your own home. Going beyond and visiting after submitting the application can further show your interest and excitement about what may be your new home next fall. On this trip, however, skip the focus on the admissions office. Spend time at the financial aid office to ensure you’ve gotten all your FAFSA, scholarships, and financial aid questions answered. You should also find out who your financial aid officer may be and use the school’s net price calculator to learn what your family’s financial responsibility may be. Also, spend time at departments, learning about classes you can get excited about as a first-year student and beyond.

Send updates on SAT/ACT Scores or first semester grades

Many students applied test-optional during the fall 2021 cycle due to the pandemic and difficulty finding an open testing center. If testing options have changed in your area and you can take a test, I recommend that you try and submit a score. If you score in the school’s target range, although they may not consider it in your admissions, it’s part of your file and could be used when considering you for scholarships.

Conclusion + Next Steps

When I was applying to college, I had to wait for my acceptance letters by snail mail. Those days are long gone, and you can check an online portal for updates on admissions status. Though word of caution, the less you look, the faster time will go by. The college may reach out to you for additional information, so be sure to respond as soon as you can for any messages.

As a next step, I want you to try two to three of these strategies to continue showing demonstrated interest after submitting the application. You can also check out this article on the holistic admissions evaluation to see how your application will be reviewed.

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Bethany Goldszer is top college admissions and financial aid expert. She's been featured in HuffPost, USA Today, Newsday, Queens Gazette, and Official Black Wall Street & voted Best of Long Island. Faced with the overwhelming stress of applying, getting admitted to and financing her University of Chicago education, she started Stand Out College Prep LLC in 2012 so that no student or parent would have to go through this process alone. Over the last 15 years, Bethany has worked with over 1,500 students, helping them and their parents get into their top choice colleges and secure more than $20M in financial aid and scholarships. And each year, she continues to help more students stand out in the college admissions process and their parents navigate financial aid and scholarships.