You’ve hit submit. Now you anxiously await the decision. When will it come? How is your application and accompanying documents scrutinized by the college? The answers to these questions can vary greatly by college. To understand how you are viewed and when you’ll know the decision, ask these key questions of each college to which you apply.
1. How will GPA be considered (and what’s on your transcript)? Some high schools show weighted GPA, others unweighted and some both. Ask your high school what will appear on the official transcript to the college. Ideally they are giving you a copy of your transcript at a senior meeting early this fall. Many colleges, especially large schools, will accept whatever is on the transcript making note if it’s weighted. Yet others may go the extra mile to recalculate to an unweighted GPA or even recalculate considering only core courses – bye, bye PE, music and health! If colleges got to dictate, they’d want an unweighted GPA on a 4.0 scale making it easier to compare students.
2. Do they Super Score the ACT and/or SAT? Essentially Super Scoring looks at the student’s best test scores across multiple examinations. For some students this can make a difference. Even if they don’t officially super score, the college may consider multiple test scores and subscores. Find out how deeply they look at test scores. One VP of Admissions from a state flagship recently told me while they don’t super score, they do look at all scores and trends in testing. As a matter of fact, his opinion is the math score is a strong predictor of finishers at the college level despite what major a student pursues. Don’t forget! The vast majority of colleges require you to submit scores directly from the testing agency and they must be received at the college by the deadline, not ordered from the agency by the colleges deadline.
3. Are notifications rolling or does the school pool students? This will determine when you are considered, if you are compared to other students and when you’ll know whether you are in. Here’s how it works. If a school gives rolling consideration, the student is evaluated on their own merit and considered as soon as the college begins reviewing complete files. If rolling is the case, then you want to get that application in EARLY – be in the front of the line! This might happen as early as September, but more likely October.
Pooling on the other hand means the admissions office is collecting applications, may begin to review them when received, but will not make an admission decision until the deadline in order to compare all applicants. Admission decisions are then usually released on a given date at the same time. Pooling is typical for highly selective schools or programs.
Keep in mind universities may generally have rolling admission, but their most selective programs could pool students. Just ask!
4. How and when you’ll be notified and what are the options. The when part will go in conjunction with the answer to rolling and pooling discussed in number three. Most colleges notify you online – no more waiting by the mailbox.
The decision might be more complicated than IN! or no thank you. Students on the bubble in the early decision and early action cycles at some schools can be deferred to the regular pool of applicants meaning they want more time to consider you (and compare you to others), thus they will notify you at a later date. Additionally, during the latest cycle of admits in the spring, you could also be wait listed.
5. Are there additional applications you need to submit? Some schools consider you for all scholarships and also their honors program by simply applying to the university. Others require additional applications or at the very least checking a box asking for consideration.
Be certain you know everything thing requiring completion and the deadlines.