If college admissions decisions have not already started arriving, they will soon. Some colleges will send out their decisions through the mail, while others will send an email or ask students to log into the admissions portal. No matter how the decisions arrive, they are sure to create a reaction. However, what should be the next step for each decision category?
Celebrate all the victories, or acceptances. You have worked hard and should be proud of your accomplishments. The ball is now in your court and you get to make the colleges wait for your decision. Yet, this decision can be harder than you think. In the fall you had to narrow down your list to six or seven (or twenty) and now you have to narrow that list down to one.
After receiving all admissions decisions, compare all the colleges that sent acceptance letters. For many students, out-of-pocket price will be the deciding factor. Thus, before making the final decision, wait until financial aid award letters arrive. Students and families should remember that even if the total “award” at one college is more than another, it may not be the best offer. The best way to compare colleges is to find the total cost of attendance for each institution and subtract the free money (scholarships and grants). The difference will be the price the student and parents will need to pay to attend the college for one year. The award letter will also include loans and work-study which can 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, if offered work-study, students will need to find a job and do the work to receive the amount award.
Students should also consider visiting the colleges they are still considering before sending in the tuition deposit. Even if you have visited in the past, you might see the college in a different light now that it is a true option. Many colleges offer accepted student events that allow students to experience the campus as a student. Whatever visit option you choose, make sure to ask to see and experience everything that is important to you. Also, ask all the questions you have to ensure you understand everything the college offers. 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 the information they need.
Once students have made their final decision, they should make sure they submit their tuition deposit before the May 1 National College Decision Day to save their spot. After sending in the deposit, stay connected with the college to stay up-to-date on everything you need to do in the summer. It is also important for students to notify the colleges they will not be attending. Besides being a nice thing to do, it could open up a space for a student on the waitlist.
You’ve been placed on the waitlist
This can be quite disappointing, especially if you really wanted to attend the college. For many colleges, the odds of being taken off the waitlist are slim. However, if you are still very interested in attending, do everything the college requires to stay on the waitlist. Some colleges want a written confirmation you 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. 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 in 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 the students on the waitlist. Therefore, you should start planning on attending one of the colleges that did offer admission. If one of the waitlist colleges does come through with a spot, it will be great news. If offered a spot from the waitlist and you still want it, cancel your spot at the other college and commit to the waitlist school. However, if the waitlist never opens a spot for you, you’ll still have an institution 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 you received an acceptance letter, celebrate your college acceptance letters. There are also other paths you can take to get to your ultimate goal of college graduation. Besides accepting an offer from a college that sent an acceptance letter, you may want to consider attending 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 investigate the best option for you.