It’s February, do you know what your senior should be doing?

by Christal Holmes, Campus Visit and Communications Manager

Hello again parents!  Hopefully you had a chance to read part I of this blog series back in December (if not, you can find it here).  As promised, here’s part II of what students should be doing during the spring of their senior year.  Once again, counselors and students can feel free to read along.

Parents, hopefully by this point your students have identified their top schools and submitted their admissions applications.  Once the applications have been submitted, it’s then time to play the waiting game until decisions arrive.  In order to ensure that your student is receiving a decision in a timely fashion, many schools allow students to check their application statuses online.  This way, students can see what information has been received and what information may still be outstanding – hence delaying the schools responses.  For students who applied electronically to VCU, they can log back in to the site where they created their application and check to see what materials we have received. 

If academic information has changed over the semester (i.e. students have received mid-year grades or have updated test scores), students should check with each school to see if that information will be accepted.  Students who have applied to VCU can feel free to send updated academic information to our office; once received we will match it with their application materials so that it may be taken into consideration during the review process.

Although some schools also give out electronic admissions decisions, VCU will only provide a decision in writing to students, via U.S. mail.  Probably one of the most popular questions during this time of the year is “when will I (my student) receive a decision?” from VCU since you have all of the application materials.  Each year, we receive thousands of applications from prospective students.  It takes time not only to process the additional several thousand transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendations, but for our admissions counselors to read through this information and make a decision on each applicant.  Therefore, we can only say that students who applied and submitted all required supporting documents by our recommended January 15 deadline will receive an admissions decision from our office in writing by April 1.  Since we do review applications on a rolling basis, it is possible for students to receive a decision from us before April 1.

If your students applied by our December 1 scholarship deadline, scholarship award letters will be sent out (only to students who have been awarded a scholarship) by late February/early March.  These notifications will be sent separate from admissions decisions.  Please note that the December 1 deadline was not an early action or early decision deadline — we only offer rolling admission.

Also remember that if your students are in need of financial aid, they should be completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The earliest that the FAFSA could be completed was January 1; the earlier this information is submitted, the more likely that students will receive grants (free money) versus loans (money that will have to be paid back in the future).  The priority filing date for VCU is March 1. 

About four to six weeks after students have submitted the FAFSA, they’ll receive the results in the form of a Student Aid Report (SAR).  The SAR will tell the amount of money that the students’ family is expected to contribute (expected family contribution) and whether they qualify for the Federal Pell Grant.  The SAR should be sent to any of the students chosen schools, if they haven’t already received a copy. 

As students are receiving their admissions decisions, please continue to encourage your students to maintain their academic performance.  Offers of admission are often based upon information from grades 9-11.  Some schools may require that mid-year grades be submitted; most all schools will require final senior year transcripts.  It is possible that an offer may be rescinded from students if they have not maintained their academic performance during senior year. 

During the spring, many families often decide to visit (or revisit) the top choice schools before accepting an offer.  It is encouraged that families make plans to visit when the school(s) of interest are open and classes are in session.  Many families also opt to visit over vacations and breaks from school, particularly during spring break weeks (expect larger volumes of visitors at most schools during this time).  A number of schools may also offer special events or programs just for accepted students; be on the lookout for e-mails and invitations for these events. 

Check back in March for more information about what you and your students can be doing once the admissions decisions have been received and as the summer approaches.