April 2, 2010 — -- Across the nation anxious high school seniors are finding out whether they've been accepted to their college of choice.
While waiting is often the hardest part, sometimes figuring out what to do after you've gotten the word -- accepted, rejected or wait-listed -- can seem just as tough.
Luckily, college consulting expert Michele Hernandez dropped by "Good Morning America" to share some tips on what to do, no matter the scenario.
According to Hernandez, it's harder than ever for students to get into some of the nation's best universities.
"It's been getting harder every year for the past 10 years, but it's really gotten bad over the past two years because of a decision by three top schools -- Harvard, Princeton and the University of Virginia -- to get rid of their early decision admission programs so all the kids who would normally get into those schools early are flooding the applicant pool," Hernandez said. "[And] because of the recession, more students are applying to top-tier schools because bigger, better schools give more financial aid."
Many students who were denied their dream school choose another school with hopes of transferring eventually. But according to Hernandez, this could be a losing game.
"Transferring is not the best thing to do because, honestly, the odds of getting into a school as a transfer student are actually worse," she said. "If they've got their heart set on a particular school, they might want to consider taking a gap year and then reapplying."
You Got In ... but May Need Financial Aid
According to Hernandez, the first step in getting financial aid is taking action.
"If you got a financial aid package and it's not enough, you can appeal the package," she said. "Once you've been admitted, they want to keep you. If you got better financial aid offers from other schools, let them know. Often they will match them."
If you have to take out loans, Hernandez said to consider if you want to make that investment.
"If you're going to get a great education, you have to look at it as a good investment," she said.
"First, don't forget the obvious. Fill out the wait-list card and make it clear that yes, you do want to be on that wait list," Hernandez said. "Be an active candidate, send them a brief one-page update on anything you've done, any awards you've received since your application."
Hernandez said it's also good to follow up with your admissions officer.
"The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the kids on the wait list who let it be known they want in are the ones who get in."
Hernandez provided the following tips for students looking forward to applying next year.