Heather Barber
March 2024

The Application is Sent, But the Journey is Just Beginning: Your Comprehensive Guide to Post-Application Preparation (Part I)

Congratulations! You've tackled the formidable task of submitting your college applications. But fear not, the path to higher education continues. In part 1 of this blog series, Discover Pathwaze walks you through the next steps.  As you eagerly anticipate admission letters, seize this golden opportunity to prepare for a smooth transition to college life. Let's embark on a comprehensive guide to ensure your journey is one of excitement, not overwhelm.

Be the Master of Organization and Information:

Stay Ahead of the Curve: Don't let excitement distract you! Bookmark each college's application portal and check regularly for updates. This ensures you stay on top of deadlines and important communications.

Demystify Your Finances: Familiarize yourself with financial aid options and deadlines (Federal Student Aid). Understanding the intricacies of your financial aid package helps you make informed decisions (College Board). Keep transcripts, test scores, and reference letters readily available, just in case.

Experience Campus Life (Optional): When you finally receive those acceptance letters, consider visiting the campuses that ignite your passion. These visits offer valuable insights into campus culture and academic offerings, helping you make the perfect choice for your next chapter (National Association for College Admission Counseling)

Sharpen Your Academic Edge:

Maintain Excellence: Don't let senioritis strike! Maintaining strong grades demonstrates your commitment to academic excellence, something colleges highly value (National Association for College Admission Counseling, NACAC).

Challenge Yourself: Push your boundaries by taking enriching electives or online courses related to your prospective major. Not only does this showcase your intellectual curiosity, but it also equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge (Khan Academy). Remember, you're developing a new mindset that's yours! View challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, not setbacks. Develop a resilient mindset and celebrate your progress, not just perfect grades. Maintain a genuine interest in learning and exploring new ideas. Ask questions, participate in discussions, and be open to diverse perspectives. And last, remember, no one is checking on your assignments except for you– so, take ownership of your academic journey and commit to putting in the necessary effort to succeed!

Prepare for Higher Ground: Research the expectations of college-level coursework and start developing effective study habits. Time management, critical thinking, and effective communication are keys to unlocking success in college (College Board).

The Teacher Knows Best: Why Seeking Help From Educators is Your Secret Weapon

Navigating the pre-college phase can be a whirlwind of emotions and uncertainties. While independence is certainly a goal, remember that your teachers are a wealth of knowledge and support just waiting to be tapped into. Don't shy away from asking them for help - it's not a sign of weakness, but rather a demonstration of your proactive approach and commitment to learning.

Think of your teachers as mentors and guides. They've seen countless students navigate similar anxieties and challenges, and they possess the expertise to tailor their support to your specific needs. Whether it's clarifying a complex concept, brainstorming essay topics, or simply seeking reassurance about college readiness, reaching out to your teachers opens doors to valuable insights and personalized guidance. Remember, their success lies in your success, and they're genuinely invested in helping you thrive.

So, don't hesitate to schedule office hours, ask questions after class, or send an email seeking clarification. You might be surprised at the wealth of knowledge, encouragement, and practical advice your teachers have to offer. Embrace the opportunity to learn from experienced educators, and remember, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a powerful step towards academic success and confident preparation for your college journey.

Dive Deep into Your Future:

Find Your Academic Match:  While identifying broad academic interests is a good starting point, consider taking a deeper dive into specific subfields, concentrations, or research areas within your chosen field. Exploring these nuances can help you find a program that truly aligns with your aspirations and learning style.

Beyond Narrowing Interests: Seek guidance from professors, mentors, or professionals in your field of interest. They can offer insights into career paths, emerging trends, and specific programs that align with your goals. If possible, arrange to shadow professionals working in your desired field. This firsthand experience can provide valuable insights into the daily realities and specific skills required for different career paths.

Read academic journals and articles: Immersing yourself in relevant academic literature exposes you to cutting-edge research and helps you identify specific areas of interest within your broader field. Additionally, it will expose you to ideas ahead of your peers which will aid in fully absorbing ideas when you get to campus!

Matching Your Ambitions: Once you have a clearer understanding of your academic interests and potential career paths, delve into the details of college programs. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  • Program Requirements: Pay close attention to specific coursework, prerequisites, and GPA requirements for potential majors or concentrations. This ensures you know where those challenging times are going to be, and which courses are truly foundational to your success in a given field.
  • Faculty Expertise: Research the professors' faculty profiles and research interests (don’t just look for the easy A). Aligning your interests with faculty expertise can provide enriching mentorship opportunities and research collaborations.
  • Available Resources: Consider the resources available to students, such as internships, research labs, study abroad programs, and career counseling services. These resources can significantly enhance your learning experience and career preparation.
  • Program Culture: Explore the overall program culture and student experiences through online forums, student reviews, and virtual campus tours. Understanding the program's environment and learning style can ensure a good fit for your personality and preferred learning approach.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog series for 5 more great steps you can take before you leave for college!


National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC): https://www.nacacnet.org  

College Board: https://www.collegeboard.org 

Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): https://www.bls.gov/ooh 

College Scorecard: https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/ 

American Psychological Association (APA): https://www.apa.org/ 

The Jed Foundation: https://www.jedfoundation.org/

The Princeton Review: https://www.princetonreview.com/ 

College Confidential: https://www.collegeconfidential.com/ 

Common App: https://commonapp.org/ 

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