You’re Accepted to College! Now what?

by Bethany Goldszer | Last Updated: January 22, 2019

Time needed: 4 minutes.

Getting accepted to college will be the first of many great accomplishments in your life. After crafting the perfect application – taking SAT exams, preparing for interviews, and writing essays that best captures you — the hard work paid off. But what comes next?

  1. Celebrate and share the news.

    To be sure, many people helped you along the way. Your parents will likely be the first to know the good news. But don’t forget to reach out to teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, and anyone who wrote a recommendation letter, edited an essay, or gave you words of encouragement. This good news goes a long way in making them feel appreciated and giving them a happy ending to the story of where you’ll go next in your journey.

  2. Read the financial aid award letter.

    Sometimes financial aid packages arrive at the same time you hear back from admissions that you are accepted. But many times, the award letter arrives 7-10 days later. If you have not received your package within two weeks, contact the financial aid office. Once the financial aid award letter arrives, sit down with your family to discuss if the college is affordable. If it is not, then look for instructions on how to appeal the award letter. This process may be as simple as writing a letter and providing additional documentation to prove need. If you appeal and the school does not increase your aid, you can decline the offer. You can cite financial difficulty (usually an OK deal breaker if you applied Early Decision) and choose another school that’s more affordable. I don’t believe any school is worth taking on tons of debt.

  3. Withdraw other college applications.

    Next, withdraw your applications from other colleges that admitted you. If you were accepted as an Early Decision applicant, you will need to withdraw from all other schools you applied to, regardless of the outcome. Unfortunately, many students forget this step. Why is this important? Because colleges these days are adding large numbers of students to the wait list. By letting them know you have chosen another school, they can move someone off the wait list into your slot. In fact, if you were admitted by Early Decision, you signed an agreement that you would formally withdraw your applications from other schools. Here’s a sample withdrawal letter.

  4. Plan a visit.

    Typically, colleges host a special event on campus for admitted students. Attend this event to meet other accepted students, tour the campus, explore student services, meet advisers, and ask questions about the enrollment process. At this visit, you can view the college from the perspective of being a student. While there, especially if you are on the fence, ask yourself: does this feel right? Do I see myself living here? Will I be happy?

  5. Follow any next step instructions.

    Once you decide a college, the timeline towards matriculation will move quickly. It’s surreal that in a few months, you’ll be a college student. The college will inform you via your online portal or by mail, the specific action steps you need to take to enroll. For example, the school may be hosting an open house for admitted students for which you need to register. Other common tasks include:

    ✔ Accepting your offer of admission and financial aid award
    ✔ Submitting a deposit
    ✔ Getting immunized
    ✔ Registering for entrance exams
    ✔ Completing housing forms

    There will be a lot to do. Read the directions carefully. If you have questions, please contact your admissions officer. Keep track of what you have to do and make sure you complete these items by their deadlines to prevent any roadblocks to registering for classes.

Now that you’re in, the journey really begins. Ride the high of being accepted, but make sure you complete these steps to successfully transition from high school to the college you dreamed of attending.

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