You’re Admitted, Now What?
Congratulations! You got that big packet in the mail or saw some exciting news on your applicant portal. Maybe you even had a reaction like one of these (Pro Tip: Keep your admission results private)! After you feel the rush of excitement at getting into one or several colleges, you may be tempted to think the process will just end itself. Before you kick back, make sure you follow these steps to cross your T’s and dot your I’s so you know you’ve ended the process just as thoughtfully as you started it!
1. Read Your Offer Letter Carefully
Before you start celebrating, make sure you actually read the full text of your offer letter to make sure you are either fully or conditionally admitted. It could be possible that you were admitted for a different entry term than the traditional fall start and the college wants you to enroll in the Summer or Spring semesters. You also may have been admitted but without the option to declare your major of choice if that particular program was more selective that year. You very well may be fine with these options, and may have expected them based on your research, but double check to make sure you know exactly how you’ll enroll if admitted.
2. Confirm Your Financial Aid is Final, Not Estimated
If you applied for financial aid, now’s a good time to make sure all of the required documents are received on your status portal. You’ll also want to confirm if the letter is estimated or official. Oftentimes, colleges work really hard to at least get you a tentative offer letter so you have a sense of how much aid to expect but, unless all of your required documents have been received AND PROCESSED, it may be subject to change. A quick call or email to the financial aid office should get that cleared up for you.
If it is tentative, make sure you know what’s missing and get it submitted ASAP so you can make the aid officers’ lives easy and have what they need to finish the process. Trust me, stay on the aid office’s good side because sooner or later you’ll need their help!
3. Visit Anywhere You Haven't Been
You’ve likely visited many of the colleges who have now accepted you so take an inventory and see if there are any you haven’t had the chance to visit. Chances are the colleges are offering either in-person or virtual admitted student events so hop on their admitted student website (they probably told you about this in your acceptance letter) and sign up! Spring break and long weekends are great ways to use your time wisely.
Once you arrive on campus, you’ll probably feel a little overwhelmed with excitement and a celebratory tone. After all, the college is working REALLY hard to win you over so you enroll at their campus. While you should absolutely soak it all in and feel proud of your achievement, my advice is to try to look past all the fanfare so you can see the real college. Look around and see if students look stressed or excited. Try the food somewhere other than what’s offered for the official event (they’re probably trying to show off the best of the best). Ask students you interact with deep questions to get to the heart of the experience. By really trying to probe and find the real experience, you’ll be much more confident in your decision to enroll or not enroll.
4. Sleep On It
Finally, remember that you have time and that there’s never a need to accept a spot right away. We’re talking about the next several years here so you better feel 100% committed that this is the environment that will let you do your best work! Colleges who are members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling also agree to uphold strong ethical best practices and that includes giving students until the widely recognized deadline of May 1 to make an enrollment decision. So after getting lots of sleep, reflecting on your admitted student visits, and confirming all the terms of your acceptance and financial aid are satisfactory, turn in that one and only deposit and congratulate yourself on finding your best fit.