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What to Do After You’ve Been Accepted to College: Tips for High School Seniors

Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

Woo hoo! You’re a high school senior and you’ve been accepted to college! That’s incredible. For many students, college acceptance is both a relief and a stressor. It’s a relief because you no longer have to worry about the college application process, but it’s a stressor because your world is about to change.

In this blog post for high school seniors, I share a few tips about what to do after you’ve been accepted to college. As much as you might be mentally “done” with high school because you’re already picturing college, you don’t want to let go just yet.

What to Do After You’ve Been Accepted to College

The following is a list of action items and suggestions for high school seniors who have been accepted to college.

1. Commit to Your College.

Receiving an acceptance letter from a college is not the last step of the application process. You’ll need to formally accept your college’s admission offer and fill out the forms they require of new students. Each school has its own forms, and it’s on you to make sure you know what they are.

Most of the forms needed to complete the acceptance process are available through the college portal where you checked your acceptance status. This information is not available through the Common App or Coalition websites.

Some schools also require a fee when you formally accept a school’s offer.

If you are unsure about what to do to formally let a college know that you’re attending, call them. Simply call the phone number that’s listed on the college website under the admissions department.

2. Don’t Let Your Grades Slide.

The senior slide is real. If you’re currently a senior headed to college in the fall, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Once you’re accepted to college, it’s easy to study a little less, try a little less, and care a little less about high school work, but this is the last thing you want to do.

Many colleges will require an end-of-year transcript to complete your acceptance, and this transcript will reflect your year-end grades.

If a college sees strong grades up to senior year, and then bad grades during senior year, they’ll know you gave up. This is not the kind of student colleges and universities want on campus.

While I want you to feel joy and relief after being accepted to college, I don’t want that relief to impact your efforts in school. Colleges can absolutely revoke your admission and I’ve seen it happen.

If you’re struggling with motivation, here are some of my best motivation tips:

3. Update Your Résumé.

Your high school student résumé helped you get into college. Your objective statement reflected your intended major or career path.

Now that you’ve been accepted to college, your résumé has a different purpose. You might use it to get a summer job or an internship — both of which require you to adjust your objective statement to be more career-oriented.

Update your résumé with a current GPA, activities, and any work or volunteer experience you’ve accumulated since the fall.

Additionally, ensure the references on your résumé are up-to-date and are still people you want potential employers to speak to.

4. Maintain Teacher Relationships.

It’s important to maintain healthy relationships with your teachers through the end of the year. Not only is this a quality of being a good human being, but your teachers are potential references for jobs and internships that you might pursue after you graduate high school.

5. Look for and Apply for Scholarships.

College is so expensive. (SO expensive!!) To offset the cost, consider applying to some of the thousands of scholarships available to students headed off to college. 

Here’s where you can find available college scholarships:

Here are some tips about applying for college scholarships:

  • Many require short essays (250-500 words). 
  • Keep a Google Doc with all the essays you write. Modify and re-use essays that can work for more than one scholarship.
  • Read the application criteria closely. Many scholarships have fine print that requires you to live in certain states, have certain ancestry, or apply to a particular major.
  • Make a spreadsheet to collect and organize scholarships you plan to apply to. This research takes some time. But, it’s best to find 10-15 scholarships first, and then write/apply to them as a second step. I suggest your spreadsheet has the following columns: scholarship name, URL (to the application), deadline, amount, status (not done, in progress, done).

Final Tips for High School Seniors Headed to College

College acceptance is a huge achievement. The next four years will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. And, you’re going to get closer and closer to the person you’re meant to be. You will learn, you will fail, you will grow, and you will form valuable relationships that could change your life. 

But before that, take care of business in high school and finish senior year on the best note you can. The 5 tips in this post teach you not just what to do after you’ve been accepted to college, but also how to close a chapter of your life in a way that you’re proud of.

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