You’ve put in hours of research to compile the best fit list of colleges to apply to, spent your summer and late nights writing countless essays, prepped for interviews, rescheduled campus tours, and inquired about scholarships. BUT, here comes the hard part . . . waiting for admissions decisions. The majority of Early Action and ideally all Early Decision announcements have been made. Over the next 8-12 weeks, Regular Decision notifications will be released. SO, how do you handle the various admission decisions?

If you are accepted ED admission — Congratulations! We hope this feels like a dream come true. 99% of the time, this is a binding contract. Meaning, by applying Early Decision, you and your family are prepared to attend said university if admitted. However, there is an important piece of information to know that most admissions officers neglect to share. A recent NYT article shared, “These supposedly binding offers do not, in fact, oblige you to attend. If you can’t afford to go at the price that the college has asked you to pay, you can back out.”

Should this be the case for your family, do not let anyone push you into a direction that is not a fit for you. “You can apply anywhere you want once you break an early decision agreement. You’re supposed to withdraw applications elsewhere and not send out others only if you accept an early decision offer.”

If you are accepted EA or RD admission — Congratulations! Keep in mind financial aid packages and merit-based scholarships may come in a separate letter, a few days, or even a few weeks, after receiving the initial acceptance. Check your email, your student portal, and the actual mail for all communication. If you have earned acceptance into a school that you fully intend to enroll in, please notify your other schools as early as possible so your seat at these other colleges can be offered to another hopeful student, possibly someone without any other offers. You absolutely have until the intended deadline to make a decision; however, if there are even 1 – 2 schools you can notify that you will not be attending, the better your standing.   

If you are deferred admission —  A defer is not a deny. We hope you will not look back over what you could have done differently. Spend time focusing on having a strong second semester, send in a midterm report, and complete any forms or other requirements, like a Letter of Continued Interest, the school requests.

If you are denied admission -– Ok. You did not get in. Remember, this process is like dating, or finding a best friend, or adopting a pet, or trying out for a team, you both must be a good fit for each other. You are talented and capable! Not every school out there, just like every person on the planet, will not be the right match for you. It’s likely you’ve already been admitted to other colleges, or you soon will be. We understand you wish those free throws would have swished cleanly through the net, rather than rattled around the rim and out, but the long game is far from over. Keep your head up! If you do that, you will see plenty of people in the crowd cheering for you— family, friends, teachers, counselors, and others in your community who know you, love you, and believe in you. Focus on their words of affirmation, rather than the ones on a screen, a letter, or in your head right now.

If you are supporting a student receiving difficult news – Parents and other adults around students who are disappointed or hurting think they need to call the admission office (or the president or the governor), appeal the decision, “come down there,” or pull strings.

Ultimately, we think in these moments what kids (all of us, actually) need is very simple—love, concern, empathy, belief, and encouragement. And hey, if the words aren’t coming, a heartfelt hug might be best anyway. 

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