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After a long and exhausting application process, you’ve finally received the college acceptance letter you’ve worked so hard for. Now what?
Well, the hard work is definitely not over. In fact, the months before you start college might be your busiest yet. You’ll need to choose a college, register for classes, pick a major and fill out droves of paperwork. If you’re attending classes in person you may need to also secure housing, get on a meal plan and relocate to a new community.
These are big changes, and they can certainly feel overwhelming. But this period of your life should also be fun and rewarding. Read on to learn how to spend this crucial time preparing for a successful and enriching college experience.
What to Do After You Get an Acceptance Offer
Assess Your Options
If you applied to multiple schools, don’t immediately commit to the first one that accepts you. You may be lucky enough to gain admission to more than one college, in which case you should carefully weigh the pros and cons of each before making your selection.
Consider the Logistics
Once you select your school, consider how everything will work when you get there. Will you need a vehicle? Many campuses have public transportation, but you’ll want to ensure you can get everywhere you need to go. You’ll have to transfer any bills to your new address, and you may want to join a bank and sign up for a credit or debit card. Also, consider which items you’ll need for life on campus. You’ll want the essentials, but not too much stuff.
Set Up Your Student Account
One of your first tasks as an incoming college student will be setting up your student portal and college email address. There will be important documents to submit, including financial aid award confirmation, housing and meal plan forms, and medical records. You’ll want to purchase textbooks once your class schedule is finalized, and it’s a good idea to start paying your housing and tuition bills as soon as you can.
Sort Your Finances
College is expensive, and the costs keep climbing. Whatever your college plan, financial aid resources are available to help bring you closer to your goals. And don’t stop now if you’ve already applied for aid; deadlines for scholarships run year-round.
Connect With the Campus
Consider a campus visit a few weeks or months before you need to be there. Getting familiar with your learning environment ahead of time can help you focus on your academics when the semester begins.
When you visit campus, you can tour housing, check out student activities and clubs, and even meet your future classmates. You also can search for a part-time job or work-study gig. Starting early can open up more options and give you a better chance of securing a great position.
High school isn’t over yet. Avoid a senior slump by keeping up your senior year grades and finishing strong. If you ace your final classes, you can even send supplemental transcripts to any colleges where you’ve been waitlisted. Plus, college classes are more complex and time-intensive than most high school courses. By maintaining good study habits during your senior year of high school, you’ll feel more comfortable with your college work load.
How Do You Commit to a College After Being Accepted?
Once you decide where you want to attend, you should formally accept the school’s offer and formally decline all other offers.
Once you’ve been accepted, you’ll have many new obligations and deadlines—deadlines to accept enrollment, apply for housing, submit final high school transcripts, take placement tests and file financial aid forms, to name a few tasks. Remember that many schools require an enrollment deposit or acceptance fee. If you effectively monitor all your deadlines, you’ll avoid needing to scramble at the last minute.
Also, most colleges host orientations where new students can tour campus, take placement tests, pose for their student ID photo and meet with advisors to create a class schedule. Find out about your college’s first-year orientation, and plan accordingly.
What To Do if You’re Waitlisted
Around 10% of college applicants get placed on a waitlist. This means they met a college’s acceptance criteria but weren’t included in the first round of admissions. If you’re waitlisted, the uncertainty can be stressful, but you can take a number of proactive measures while you wait for the college’s final decision.
The first thing to do is accept the school’s offer to be added to its waitlist, which usually involves filling out an online form. You can write to admissions officials reasserting your interest in the school and highlighting recent academic accomplishments. You can also send letters of recommendation from personal, professional and academic references to help make your case for acceptance.
However, you should also consider other options for college, because being waitlisted does not guarantee eventual acceptance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About College Acceptance
How do I check my college acceptance status?
If your prospective school has an applicant portal, you should be able to check your acceptance status there at any time. Otherwise, you can expect to hear about any updates to your acceptance status via email or regular mail.
What are the odds of getting accepted to college?
Acceptance rates vary drastically by college, so your odds depend on where you’ve applied. You can estimate your chances of acceptance by looking at a college’s prior admission rates and first-year student profiles. See how your GPA and test scores stack up against other admitted students’ to determine your chances at getting admitted.
Are college acceptance rates dropping?
Yes, college acceptance rates have been declining as more students apply to college and apply to more schools on average. This is driven in part by the rising popularity of the Common App, which allows students to apply to up to 20 schools at the same time. Additionally, many schools have lifted their standardized test score requirement, leading to more college applicants overall.
How do you commit to a college after being accepted?
When you’ve decided where to attend college, you can accept admission through your applicant profile or by following the steps provided by the school to formally accept its offer. You may have to pay an enrollment deposit when you accept the offer of admission.