As stressful and time consuming as the college application process is, your decisions on where to apply are only compounded by where to attend, once the acceptance letters start arriving.
If you’re fortunate enough to receive multiple acceptance letters, you’ll need to spend some time responding to each letter, informing schools as to whether you plan to attend or not. Your responses do not have to be lengthy, but the main prerequisite for your replies should be professionalism—the same professionalism that you hope to receive from each institution and Admissions Office.
As you anxiously await hearing from your chosen schools, here are several considerations for letting colleges know if you will, or will not, be attending:
A timely response
Once your acceptance letter arrives, make certain to respond exactly as instructed by the respective school, since your “Yea” or Nay” will be time sensitive as it pertains to other applicants. Not only can a quick response directly impact your allocated slot, it can have ramifications related to available financial aid, housing, and course selection. Also, be aware of students on a given school’s waiting list. The sooner your acceptance or rejection is recorded, the sooner your incoming freshman designation can be confirmed or reassigned.
Snail mail or digital?
When considering the method of your response, err on the side of what you learned in English for writing term papers. Hard copy is often preferred, but email will suffice. Most schools enclose an acceptance confirmation form with the official letter, so use official documentation if it’s provided. Direct your response to a specific party if known, be it an individual or department. Be polite and to the point with whether you plan on attending. Regardless of whether or not you plan to attend a school, it’s always good form to show appreciation for their consideration.
Secure your spot
Accepting a school’s invitation to join the student body will require a deposit to secure your spot. If possible, wait to receive letters from all the schools you applied to before sending in your deposit. However, if you have been accepted to your back up school, while still awaiting news from (or waitlisted by) your first choice college and a deadline is approaching, lock in the sure thing by sending your deposit to your back up school. There is a possibility you may lose your deposit on the back-up school if you’re accepted to your first choice. If your first choice school selects you for admission, you will need to send in a second deposit and diplomatically inform your back up school of your decision.
Though an initial commitment and subsequent retraction to your secondary school may feel a bit awkward, universities don’t take changes of heart personally – and you shouldn’t, either.
Financial aid as a factor
Choosing the school that best fits your academic, social, and financial needs may be difficult, but make certain to consider (and reconsider) all of the applicable factors, then sign off with your “Thank you, I accept,” or “Thank you, I decline,” responses. If you are applying for grants, scholarships, federal funding, or a student loan the amount of financial aid each institution awards you may likely play a big role in your decision. All the more reason to express sincere gratitude to the institution you ultimately select.
Remember: once your acceptance letter has been received and your response confirmed, you still must successfully complete the final months of high school. Your transcript is a work in progress! Getting into college is a proud achievement in every student’s life. Enjoy the moment, and finish strong.