You’ve written your essays, filled out your applications, submitted the supplements, asked teachers for recommendations, suffered through alumni interviews and finally hit submit on that last application. Has the anxiety lifted? Is it all peace and tranquility in your life now? Of course not, because now you have to wait, many of you until late March, before you learn the (hopefully good) news.

You can spend the next sixty days biting your nails and clicking refresh on the admissions office application page; however, I suggest you channel your nervous energy toward more productive endeavors. For example…

Confirm that your file is complete. Call the admissions offices where you have applied. Say this: “Hi. I have recently submitted my application and I am calling to confirm that my file is complete.” Don’t ask if they got your application. You want to know if they have everything: recommendations, tests scores, transcript, application, etc. If you are missing something take action to get it to the admission office right away. See your college counselor if you need help.

Send your test scores. If you haven’t done this already, you must send your SAT, ACT and/or TOEFL scores to the colleges that require them. I know you included your scores on the Common Application, but most colleges don’t accept self-reported scores. They require scores be sent directly from the testing agencies. Here’s how.

Remind your parents to complete financial aid forms. For most students, their parents take the lead in filing need-based financial aid forms. At many colleges and universities the financial aid money runs out well before the end of the school year, so time really is money when it comes to financial aid. Read more.

Research merit scholarship opportunities. Merit scholarships include a variety of categories: academic, artistic, athletic, and the list goes on. Scholarships are the most common type of merit–based aid, and most scholarships are awarded by colleges when they admit students (and don’t require a separate application). Other merit scholarships are administered by corporations and non-profit organizations. More on finding merit scholarships.

Say thank you. Then say it again. A group of people played an important role in your application, including the teachers who wrote recommendations, your counselor who advised you and your family through the application process and the support staff who assembled and mailed hundreds of application packets for you and your classmates. Maybe an English teacher helped you turn your essay into a work of art. Say “thank you.” Write them a thank you note. A heartfelt email is okay, I guess, but nothing beats a hand-written note. If you’re a Northwood student, the school store sells note cards that make perfect thank you notes.

Update coaches. If you hope to compete in intercollegiate athletics, be sure to email the coaches. Let them know that you have applied, update them on your season, and ask them where they think you fit in their recruiting plans for next year.

Keep your foot on the gas in the classroom. Don’t let senioritis set in – at least not yet. Your third quarter and second semester grades do matter and every college that accepts you will tell you this: your acceptance is contingent upon maintaining your grades through graduation.

Note: My apologies to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for the title of this post.

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