College admissions decisions are coming

If college admissions decisions have not already started arriving, they will soon. Some colleges still send out their decisions through the mail, while others have gone “high tech” by emailing students or asking them to log into their admissions portal. No matter how the decision arrives, the decisions are sure to create a reaction. However, what should be the next step for each decision category?

You’re accepted! Celebrate all of the victories, or acceptances. Students have worked hard and should be proud of their accomplishment, no matter what colleges sent the acceptance letters. The ball is now in the student’s court and they get to make the colleges wait for their decision. However, this decision can be harder than students think. In the fall students had to narrow down their list to six or seven (or twenty) and now they have to narrow that list down to one.

After receiving all admissions decisions, students need to compare all of the colleges that sent acceptance letters. For many students, out-of-pocket price will be the deciding factor. Therefore, before making the final decision, students should wait until financial aid award letters arrive and compare the awards from each institution. Students should remember that just because the total “award” at one college is more than another, does not mean it is the best offer. The best way to compare college costs is to find the total cost of attendance for each college and subtract all of the free money (scholarships and grants) that is awarded. The difference will be the price that the student and parents will need to pay to attend the college for one year. The award letter will probably also include loans and work-study and are good options for many students. However, while loans offered on the award letters have lower interest rates, they still need to be paid back. In addition, work-study will require some work of the student.

Another thing students should consider is visiting the colleges that accepted them before sending in the tuition deposit. Even if students have visited in the past, students might see the college in a different light now that it is a true option because they have been accepted for admission.  Many colleges offer accepted student events that allow students to really experience the campus as a student. Whatever visit option a student chooses, students should feel comfortable asking to see and experience everything that is important to them. In addition, they should ask many questions to ensure they understand the college. Since attending any college will be a huge investment in time and/or money, it is the student’s right to make sure they are making the best decision with all of the information they need.

Once students have made their final decision, they should make sure they get their tuition deposit in before the May 1 National Enrollment Deposit deadline to save their spot in the fall. Then, students should stay connected with the college to stay up-to-date on everything they will need to do in the summer such as submitting their final transcript, taking placement tests, and signing up for orientation. Also, students should notify the other colleges they will not be attending. It is just nice to let the colleges know and it could possibly open up a space for a student on the waitlist.

You’ve been placed on the waitlist. This can be quite disappointing for students, especially if they really wanted to attend the college. For many colleges, the odds of being taken off the waitlist are slim. However, if a student is still very interested in attending, they should follow the requirements the college requires to remain on the waitlist. Some colleges want a written confirmation student want to stay on the list, while other colleges may ask for more information. In addition, it is recommended that students be proactive and make a case for themselves that the college should take a chance on them. Some options include contacting the admissions office to express interest, sending updated transcripts, and asking for an interview.

Even if a student is very interested on being on a waitlist, they should still commit to one of the colleges that did send an acceptance letter by May 1. Colleges cannot and, most likely, will not accept all of the students on their waitlist. Therefore, students should go on with their plans and start planning on attending one of the colleges that did offer admission. It will be great news if the waitlist college does come through with a spot. The student can cancel their spot at the other college and commit to the waitlist school. However, if the waitlist offer does not come, the student will still have a place to attend in the fall.

“After careful consideration, we cannot offer admission.” However the colleges say it, being denied or rejected will hurt. Instead of dwelling on the bad, celebrate the successes. If students were accepted to any college, celebrate being accepted by those colleges. Students should also know there are other paths they can take to get to their ultimate goal of college graduation. In addition to accepting an offer from a college that sent an acceptance letter, there is also community college or taking a gap year and reapplying. Rejection hurts, but remember there are other options.

As college decision letters start arriving, celebrate the successes. Focus on those acceptance letters and take the time to really investigate the best option.

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