The CSU's application season for fall 2017 admission may be over for the majority of campusesit closed on November 30but for the thousands of applicants to the system's 23 campuses the next few months should be more than simply a waiting game.

Eric Forbes, assistant vice chancellor of Student Academic Support at the CSU Chancellor's Office, says students should be proactive and start engaging with any campuses they've applied to now. (See "After You Submit Your CSU Application" at the end of this article for an overview of the post-application timeline.)

Communicating Through the Student Portal

After you've submitted your application to one or more CSU campus, the first thing you'll receive is an acknowledgment e-mail or letter from each campus.

In that acknowledgment, the campus will let you know how to set up your online student portal at that campus. "There isn't a single place you go for all communications [for all CSU campuses]," says Forbes. Once you've set up your unique student portal account, that's what the campus will use to communicate with you about everything to do with your application.

Then, around January and February, you may get a notification in your student portal about any missing items, such as financial documents or recommendation letters.

Through March—depending on how quick each campus is—you should receive your admission decision (meaning whether you've been admitted, denied admission, or waitlisted for admission).

If you've been accepted, you must submit your "intent to register" by May 1, along with a deposit. Again, each campus will let you know how to do this via your portal account.

Eventually, you'll be asked, too, to submit your final high school transcript (if you're a first-time freshman) or your community college transcript(s) (if you're a transfer student).

The student portal will also be used to share other information, such as details about orientation, housing or the Early Start program for students who need to take math or English courses in the summer before their first semester to better prepare for the academic year.

Incoming first-year freshmen should also submit their SAT, ACT and/or AP test scores to the CSU campus they'll be attending in the fall.

Transfer students only need to submit their AP test scores. Depending on your scores, you may have to take the English Placement Test (EPT) and/or the Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) exam to be placed into the right English and math courses.

Don't Forget to Apply for Financial Aid

"You may have submitted your CSU application by November 30, but don't forget to file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 2," Forbes stresses. "You can use tax information from the prior year, so there's no reason for students not to submit this application now."

Keep in mind that 80 percent of students at the California State University receive some type of financial aid. So chances are good that you're eligible, too.

You'll receive your financial aid award package, if any, through your student portal. If you've been accepted to more than one campus, you'll get a comparative sheet that shows your award by campus.

Getting to Know Your Campus

One of the most important parts of the post-application season is the chance to learn more about the campus(es) you've been accepted to. "Students need to transition from being an 'outsider' to an 'owner' of the campus," says Forbes.

To help you feel that you've found the school that's right for you, try to visit and tour all the campuses you're considering, ask questions, explore the departments you're interested in, and talk to current students, faculty and staff.

Students who have been accepted to multiple campuses should also compare academic programs to see which is best suited for their interests and career goals.

If you're undecided about your major, Forbes recommends getting advice early on.

"It's okay to be undecided," he says. "But on the other hand, don't ignore the issue. Be proactive. Assess your interests. Go to the career center. See what options are available to you."

Every campus has its strengths, but each also has characteristics that may not align with your preferences—whether that's location, size, affordability, or other important factors. So it is essential to get a realistic appraisal in order to make the decision that's best for you.

"It's important to do what you want to do and not listen to what everyone else is doing," says Forbes. "It's about you and what you want."


Check out the overview of the post-application timeline below:

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