What to Do If You’re Accepted, Rejected, or Waitlisted

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How to Prepare for Admission DecisionsStudents Should Prepare For All Admission Outcomes, Know What to Do Once They Receive Decisions

A majority of admission decisions are expected to be released this month, with Washington University – St. Louis, University of Chicago, MIT, and Georgia Tech releasing decisions as early as this week. For applicants, this time period represents the culmination of many months and years of hard work – they’ll find out whether or not their top-choice colleges have accepted them. What many students fail to prepare for, though, is what happens after their decisions come in, no matter the outcome.

It’s easy to predict what a student will do if he or she is accepted – there will be cheers, happy tears, and a lot of phone calls, texts, and social media posts. But what happens after that initial excitement subsides? What if the decision isn’t an acceptance, but instead a rejection? Or even more uncertain – what if he or she is waitlisted?

Knowing how to handle all admission outcomes is important during this anxious time; as many have learned during the college application process, preparation is key to managing expectations.

Here’s what students need to know in order to prepare for different admission outcomes before decisions arrive this month.

Acceptance to Top-Choice College
Congratulations! All of your hard work has paid off and you’ve gained admission to your best-fit college! It’s an exciting time and you should take the opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the experience, but don’t forget there’s still more to do. After receiving an acceptance, you should sit down with your parents and evaluate the admission offer. Did you receive financial aid? If so, how much? Now is the time to have a final discussion about finances. If everything is in order and meets your needs and goals, get ready to send in your deposit! Most schools require admitted students to secure a spot by May 1, so take your time to consider the offer, but be mindful of deadlines. Next, look into freshmen housing, orientation dates, and arrange for your final transcript to be sent to your new college!

More Than One Offer of Admission
Many students end up weighing more than one offer of admission. Even if a student is accepted to his or her top-choice college, other offers can come in that are just as enticing. Remember, you should be happy to attend any of the colleges you apply to, so it’s okay to feel a little conflicted when presented with more than one offer of admission. First, evaluate all your options. Look at the financial aid offers, refer back to your research and notes on the school, and talk with your parents. If one or two schools really stand out but you’re still not sure which to choose, see if you can make one last visit during an admitted students’ weekend. Again, take your time deciding, but be mindful of enrollment deadlines. If all else fails, go with your gut – you’ve done your research so you know what’s going to be the best option for your goals.

Not getting into a college can be a blow to many students, especially if it’s the first decision a student receives before hearing of an acceptance. If you’re rejected from your top-choice college it’s okay to be upset. Take time to mourn and come to terms with the decision, then move on. Dwelling on a rejection won’t change the outcome, so instead, turn your focus toward where you did get in. If you created a balanced list of likely, reach, and target colleges, you should gain admission to the other best-fit institutions to which you applied. Evaluate the offers of admission you did receive and keep a positive attitude! Reignite your excitement about the schools you got into by revisiting your research and considering why you chose to apply there in the first place. Attend an admitted students’ weekend or visit one more time if possible to get a second taste of the campus and explore some aspects you may have overlooked the first time around.

Few admission outcomes are as confusing as the dreaded waitlist. Students aren’t necessarily rejected, but they’re also not accepted. This can leave students holding out hope for a late admission if they’re waitlisted at their top-choice college. For others, it can be a gut-check – sometimes feelings about a top-choice college can change after learning of a waitlist decision. If you end up waitlisted at your top-choice college, first, consider whether you still want to attend or not. If not, kindly write the admission office and let them know you’d like to be removed from the waitlist. However, if you do decide that the waitlist college is still your top-choice, here’s what you need to do next to prepare and enhance your chances of admission. IvyWise also offers waitlist counseling services for students who need more guidance on how to deal with this admission outcome.

Spring Admission
It’s rare but it sometimes happens – students are accepted to their top-choice college but not for the fall. Instead, they’re offered a spot starting in the winter or spring term. This can be a setback for students who had their hearts set on a particular college but will be a semester behind their peers. This can also serve as a gut-check for students – feelings may change if students are not allowed to enroll right away. If you receive an offer like this, again, consider if this option meets your needs and goals. Is starting a semester later worth it if you get to attend your top-choice college? Consider all your options and whether or not this option is a good fit for your needs. Talk to your parents and college counselor. If you still want to attend, think about how you’ll spend the summer and fall – you don’t want just sit around waiting for the spring semester. Consider jobs, internships, and even taking a few courses at a local college to stay on track with your peers.

What tips do you have to help students prepare for admission decisions? Tell us in the comments below!

Related Topics

Admission Decision Notification Dates, College Admission Decision, Waitlist

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