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It's April! What You Need To Do During This Final Stage of College Admissions

04/02/2015 08:41 am ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015

With a few exceptions, April 1st is the day by which colleges release their admissions decisions to applicants. Hopefully, all of your waiting will be over and done with in a few days. I hope that you are happy with your choices.

A lot will be happening this month, so I thought I'd remind you about what to be thinking and doing.

√ ATTEND PRE-ADMIT STUDENT PROGRAMS AT COLLEGES TO WHICH YOU HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED

Many colleges provide Pre-admit programs to newly admitted students. Accepted students are invited to spend a couple of days on a college campus, meeting other "admits," touring college facilities, staying in a dorm, attending lectures, talking with professors and enjoying special activities put together just for them. Just so you know, some colleges offer financial aid to students who could otherwise not afford to attend such a program. If you want to know more about these Pre-admit events--and especially what to say and do while there--go to "College Preadmit Programs: What Are They and Why Should You Should Attend," my HuffPost blog on the subject.

Also, be sure to take advantage of alumni receptions in your home town that are held by various colleges for admitted students. By attending such events, you can learn a lot about a college from recent grads and older alums.

√ NARROW-DOWN THE LIST OF SCHOOLS IN WHICH YOU ARE INTERESTED. In particular, review and discuss with your parents the financial aid packages offered.

If you end up getting accepted to your favorite college, but their offer of financial aid isn't what you need, take a look at another HuffPost blog I wrote in which I explain what to do. You may be able to access additional financial aid that gets you over the hump. Lynn O'Shaughnessy and her College Solution book and blog are great resources.

√ IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE DECIDING WHICH COLLEGE YOU WANT TO ATTEND, GOOD PEOPLE TO CONSULT (IN ADDITION TO YOUR PARENTS) ARE YOUR COLLEGE COUNSELOR, TEACHERS OR OTHERS WHO YOU RESPECT.

You can also go through a decision-making process that I have developed, available in the HuffPost blog, "Deciding on One College from All of Your Choices.

√ IF YOU ARE ON A WAIT LIST FOR A COLLEGE YOU REALLY WANT TO ATTEND, THERE ARE SOME VERY SPECIFIC THINGS YOU NEED TO DO TO POTENTIALLY GET OFF THAT WAIT LIST.

My HuffPost blog, "Getting Off a College Wait List" explains how.

√ DON'T FORGET THAT BY MAY 1 YOU NEED TO NOTIFY ONE COLLEGE THAT YOU ACCEPT THEIR OFFER OF ADMISSION.

Say yes officially and send in the admissions deposit, even if you are working to get off a waitlist from another school.

RESOURCES
If you want more information, here are links to some alternative takes on how to deal with your final decisions from admissions experts who have very useful things to say:

The New York Times "Tip Sheet: What to Do After Your Admissions Decision Arrives," by Scott Chrysler, Jr.

Huffington Post's "March Madness for College Admissions Decisions" (for parents) by Rebecca Joseph

The New York Times "Tip Sheet: Making the Final College Decision" by Brennan Barnard

SPECIAL NOTE FOR PARENTS
Of all the times parent support is needed, it is now. You can celebrate with your child if all has gone well; but it's even more important that you be supportive if his or her favorite college sends a denial letter. If that happens, encourage your child to resist dwelling on "why I didn't get in." Rather, help him or her focus on choosing the best college from all the other possible options.

You can also turn to Frank Bruni's newly published Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania. Among other things, he identifies students who didn't get into ANY so-called top colleges they so wanted to attend, yet ended up eventually having "the time of their life" at lesser known schools. His message to students (and parents) is that where you go to college says nothing about what you are worth as a person or student or even what kind of success you will have the rest of your life.

He's right about that, you know.