Getting Accepted, Waitlisted or Rejected

on March 10, 2017

College admissions notifications arrive in the spring for students who applied regular decision or who were deferred from the early admission pool. This marks a turning point because it has a big impact on your future. The consequences of the college acceptances, wait-listing and rejections are often wrapped in extreme emotion.


So here’s how to cope with each of the possibilities of college admissions.


Getting Accepted to Your Dream College


You might want to pinch yourself just to make sure it’s real. You might also want to wait a few hours to ensure the college doesn’t retract its decision by telling you about a digital admissions mishap.  Once you’ve come to terms with reality, give yourself a pat on the back and tell your family and loved ones. Try to remain humble around your friends who are still waiting to hear back from colleges, or possibly even the same school. Be classy about your success.


Once you’re settled in with the fact that your number one college choice requests the honor that you to join their student body next fall, it’s time to work out the logistics. You have until May 1 to make a decision. You have the power now.


Before accepting the offer of admission, consider whether you can afford to attend your dream college. How will you pay for your education? What kind of scholarships and/or merit aid were you offered? What is the net price of the college? Do you and your parents have enough financial resources to cover the net price for all four years?


If you can afford the college, and you know it’s the right place for your higher education, then let the college know you’re enrolling, and let the other colleges you’ve applied to know that you will not be enrolling. This is good karmic measure because the earlier you let other colleges know you will not be enrolling, the sooner they can open up another spot for a student on their waiting list.


Getting Accepted to Two or More Colleges


Maybe you didn’t get into your dream school. Life will go on. The universe will not implode. Or, maybe you don’t have a dream school. Not everybody has a dream school. Some people have two or three dream schools. Some people have none.


So, if you got into multiple colleges and are not sure which one to choose, the best idea is to visit or revisit each college campus. Sit in on a couple classes, check out the dorm life and wander around campus for the overall vibe. Most importantly, check out the dining halls. If you don’t like the cafeteria food the first time you try it, you’ll hate it after four years.


Another great way to narrow down your choices is to compare prices. Calculate the net price for each college, by subtracting just the gift aid (grants and scholarships) from the total college costs. This discounted sticker price is the amount of money you’ll have to pay from savings, income and loans. Sometimes, one college will have a much lower net price than the others. If one college is offering you more money, see if the other colleges that accepted you are willing to make your decision more difficult by increasing their financial aid offers.


Being Waitlisted


The waitlist is the purgatory of college admissions. You’re not in, but you’re not flat-out rejected either. You’re a college admissions zombie, stuck between joy and sadness.


So what do you do when you get waitlisted? If you want to ride out the possibility of being accepted to the college, send in your waitlist confirmation card. You also can contact the college to let them know you’re still very interested in the college, so you can stay on their radar.


Earn any new good grades, awards or improved test scores? Let the college know about your success. If you’re super serious about getting accepted, you can even implore your counselor and the folks who wrote your college recommendations to contact the college and reinforce their faith in you. Still, there’s no guarantee, but it is always better to put in some effort than to live with regret.


Be sure to send in your acceptance and a deposit to one of the colleges that admitted you by the May 1 deadline. That way, if you aren’t accepted off the wait-list at your dream college, you still have somewhere to go. Sure, you’ll lose the deposit if the college admits you off the wait-list, but that’s a small price to pay to continue chasing your dream.


Getting Rejected


Okay. Ouch. It hurts.


Getting a rejection letter is not the end of the world. Don’t take it personally. They rejected your application, not you. It’s their loss, not yours. There are plenty of other colleges where you can get a great quality education.


You might never know why a college didn’t find you to be the right fit for their college. So what do you do when you get rejected? Take about 24 hours to mope and feel bad for yourself, and then move on. That’s it. If you hold a rejection letter too close to your heart, you’ll hinder your growth at the college you do wind up going to. Plus, you’ll forget about it soon enough anyways. 


Do not hold out hope about somehow turning the rejection into an acceptance. Sure, there are mythological stories of big errors causing a college to reverse their decision, but they are very, very rare. It would have to be something like a high school sending in the wrong transcript or the college confusing two students with the same name. This just doesn’t happen. You’re more likely to find a winning lottery ticket in the street than to have an admissions rejection reversed.

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