Those of you who applied to colleges under Regular Decision, or were deferred from your Early Action or Early Decision schools, you’ll begin to receive your admissions decisions this month. Here is a quick guide to the admissions decisions you might receive, and some advice about how to handle those decisions.
If you’re offered admission, congratulations! It’s important to take some time to celebrate and enjoy your success. Then you’ll need to decide where you want to go. The colleges that admitted you would love for you to enroll, and they will do their best to convince you. Don’t be surprised to receive personalized letters, phone calls from current students, and invitations to visit campus. Some colleges even send small gifts such as t-shirts, scarves, or posters. Take advantage of opportunities to interact with current students and visit campus – ask questions about things that really matter to you. In addition, even if you think you have a clear first-choice among your options, we recommend visiting all of the schools that admitted you. Your impressions of a college may change over time, and the school that seemed appealing before you applied may seem different on a later visit. Remember – college will be your home for the next few years, so you should take your time with your decision. You don’t have to commit anywhere until May 1!
Unfortunately, it is a simple fact that colleges are unable to admit every applicant who applies, and you may receive some “deny” decisions. If you do, it’s okay to feel disappointed, especially if it’s from a school you really like. Not all of the colleges you applied to are going to admit you, but that doesn’t affect who you are as a person. You’re still the same motivated and hard-working student you’ve always been. As former admissions counselors, we have had to deny many applicants who could be successful at our respective universities. In our experience, a deny decision is not a reflection on who you are as a person, but an indication of the competitiveness of the application process. Most students end up having a great experience at whichever school they attend, even if it wasn’t originally their first choice. Remember – that’s why you took the time to build a college list with colleges where you are a good fit. If you are denied at any school, it’s okay to let yourself feel bummed for a few days, but then focus on the schools that admitted you and are excited for you to enroll!
To be placed on the waitlist means that you submitted a strong application, but there wasn’t enough room in the incoming class to admit you. If spaces become available later in the spring or summer, colleges will review students on the waitlist on a case-by-case basis. There is no uniform policy across colleges for how the waitlist is used, so each college determines how many students to waitlist, how many will be admitted, and how to make those decisions. Generally, colleges are only able to admit a very small number of students from the waitlist, and those decisions are almost always made after May 1 (the National Candidates’ Reply Date). Colleges rarely rank students on the waitlist, so if you want to be considered, you need to let a college know. Also, because colleges tend to admit from their waitlists after May 1, you’ll need to commit to a school that admitted you before May 1. If you’re one of the lucky few admitted from a waitlist, you’ll then withdraw from the original school and commit to the new one.
The coming weeks are an exciting time in the application process. With the rest of your admissions decisions on the way, it’s important to be prepared, know what to expect, and how to handle the news.