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What Happens to Your College Application After It’s Submitted?

Admissions committee at a highly selective university discusses transfer applications.

Have you wondered about what happens to your applications after the submit button is pressed? All that hard work you have put in to making your application the best it could be is seemingly transmitted into an electronic abyss. It may be tempting to think that all that remains for your application’s future is a roll of the dice — hopefully in your favor — but while you are waiting for your results, your application is taking a long journey and undergoing various processes. We’re here to provide some insight into what happens to your application after it leaves your hopeful hands.

After You Hit “Submit”

The truth is that the journey that your application takes is quite extensive. After an application is submitted, a portable document format file (PDF) is produced immediately. Applicants can download and save this document, which includes a lot of useful information such as the applicant’s Common Application ID number (CAID) and high school College Entrance Examination Board Code (CEEB). Should an applicant encounter trouble, these numbers will be helpful in locating an application.

That same PDF will be what admissions officers will read, so it will give you a good idea of what an admissions officer will eventually read about you.

(Note: Take a minute to read through this PDF as fast as you can because this is how an admissions reader would evaluate your application. Humor yourself for just an instant and think about reading as many as 90 of these in a single day — this is the life of an admissions officer, and they absolutely love this kind of work! Absorbing information quickly and drawing connections between the various parts of your profile is a skill that admissions officers hone year after year. They love to know more about your life and hear your voice through your words.)

Following the submission of your application, all the information you have provided is sent to the Common Application’s data warehouse where it is electronically distributed to the schools on your college list.

From there, university admissions offices can download all your information securely. This could be a lot of student material to receive the day following the deadline, especially for schools that receive tens of thousands of applications, so it’s always a pleasure when students submit their applications early to avoid being in this massive download.

Once universities have these files, they can create an applicant record that includes your general information, including your personal data using the CAID number.

Even though the university to which you applied has your application, your applicant record may still not be complete. Your applicant record will remain incomplete until your test scores, letters of recommendation, and transcripts arrive. The application goes into a holding pattern until these extra materials arrive and are manually attached to your applicant record when all components have been obtained. Your application makes the glorious transition from incomplete to complete and is now ready to be reviewed!

If the university to which you applied has an application portal with status updates that track your application’s progress, your application should then be shown as complete or in review.

The Application Review Process

Although the method for evaluating applications will vary at each school, it is safe to say that your application will receive multiple reviews from several different readers.

The initial reads will take note of all portions of your profile to determine how you have prepared yourself for studying at that particular school.

Subsequent evaluations are more refined, assessing your fit into the university and culture of the school. It goes without saying that the candidates who are most prepared and able to demonstrate how well they could contribute to the university are the ones who are most likely to be admitted.

Candidates’ profiles are often discussed and debated in committees where the admissions staff is able to advocate for the applicants who would be the best additions to the incoming class. The overall idea is that admitting a candidate should be in the best interest of the student as well as the university. In this sense, admitting the right student is an exercise of matchmaking, so admissions officers consider each candidate very carefully.

Admissions committees will complete all of their evaluations before releasing their decisions to the applicants. This is done to ensure that every candidate has been given a fair decision and that all applications have been reviewed thoroughly. The results are compiled, and applicants are contacted. Some decisions will be positive, while others may be disconcerting. If you manage to earn an admit letter, congratulations! This marks the end of your application’s journey.

If you weren’t admitted, this may be the end of this application’s expedition, but you could always send out more. It’s only natural to be saddened if your application is not successful, so take some time to feel disappointed. Think carefully about your other options and consider your fit into a school that really speaks to you. The point is to rebound from this misfortune and learn from it. Remain hopeful. Your application has done its work, but that doesn’t mean that your journey has ended. Continue forward and endeavor to do greater things.

Want to learn more about what colleges look for in applications and essays? Contact us today for more information about our college admission counseling services!

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