Subscribe today to receive

the college.u newsletter.

Thanks for submitting!

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

The admission decision season is here. Who wouldn't want to receive a new kitten or puppy to go with their decision notifications? For seniors, college admission decisions may come with banners, t-shirts, or thin envelopes. While receiving a welcome or consolation puppy in the mail is unlikely, the good news is that preparing for what to expect can help you respond, plan your next steps, and embrace news in a way that honors your unique educational journey and keeps you focused on your path to college. Outside of rolling admissions, college decisions will come in waves and continue until the end of March/early April. There is a good chance you will receive a mix of news in the weeks and months to come - acceptance, deferral, waitlist, or not accepted. Your expectations and your support system can help you navigate this part so that you are positioned to make decisions that continue to reflect your goals and aspirations. Hopefully, your college journey has included learning about the nature of college admissions and creating a balanced college list so that you can approach decision season with manageable expectations and goals.

Unfortunately, waiting for college admission news can be stressful. My advice: Stay in your lane. This is when it's essential to continue making decisions based on what is best for you. Commit yourself and focus on your vision of what you want in a college experience. Everyone else's news should be nothing more than white noise.

Early Decision Notifications

If you have received an ED acceptance – congratulations you're in and know where you're going to college. It also means you need to withdraw all other applications you have submitted and send in your SIR (Statement of Intent to Register) and deposit. If you are moved into a Regular Decision path, while not the news you may have wanted to hear, you may be able to take advantage of an Early Decision II pathway. So if you haven't added those deadlines in or completed those essays, it's time to polish them up and shift gears to keep your options open.

What to do if you receive a deferral or not-accepted?

I'm not going to sugar-coat this – it may sting or knock the wind out of you. Even though this may feel personal, try to remember there is a broader context in play. A lot of decisions are about the numbers and the specific enrollment mission of that college. Simply stated, there are many more applicants than spots. Take a moment to catch your breath. Stay focused, shake it off like "water off a duck's back," and this will soon become a distant memory.

What can you do, and how to respond if you receive a deferral?

Schools are typically very specific on what you need to do if you have been deferred or moved into the Regular Decision pile. Pay attention to what they want. If they want you to opt-in, do it and do it quickly. You have nothing to lose by doing that, and you continue to keep your options open. If they want more information from you, don't wait. Submit what they need to review your application. Some schools offer the opportunity to switch from EA to EDII, which may be an option worth considering after a review of your overall list and notifications. Some schools don't want anything. Try to sit tight. It may be challenging, but sending loads of new information, letters or cookies won't convince them that your application should rise to the top. Sometimes a short, well-crafted letter or email of continued interest may make sense depending on the school.

What to do if you've been waitlisted?

Again, listen to what schools require, and respond quickly. With the ability for students to apply to multiple schools, it has become less clear to colleges which students will actually enroll. In response to this shift, many schools try to manage enrollment and acceptances via the waitlist or deferral. Opt-in if given that choice. You have nothing to lose. While you're waiting, try to find out the statistics of students who get off the waitlist. Recognize that there is a considerable range between how schools address waitlists which may vary year to year.

Acceptance – what to do if you have multiple acceptances?

Multiple acceptances are an excellent "problem." While it may feel a little daunting to think about choosing between colleges, making a decision will be based on weighing priorities, making choices, and analyzing tradeoffs. Keep in mind, however, there will be no perfect school. If a school feels perfect to you, it is probably a good fit. Once you've received all of your notifications, you will be able to review each school within an overall context, which will be different than your original college list. For some students, the best-fit school will rise out of the pile. Other students may need to sift through nuances, which may include cost, major, or distance from home. This is the time to pull in your counselor, parent or trusted adult to help you walk through your priorities to determine your best fit school based on actual information, not speculation.

A considerable part of the college search is learning to make decisions small and large along the way. This involves building a list, deciding when to apply, and which application decision pool (RD, EA, ED) makes the most sense for you. These tasks help to build decision-making skills so that you can respond to college decisions consistent with your priorities. The added bonus is you can take these decision-making skills with you wherever you choose to go.

The Waitlist. Why?!, Rick Clark, Georgia Tech Admissions

Have more questions or looking for more support? Email me at


Subscribe today for more tips and articles about the college search and application process.

Like what you're reading? Follow college.u on Twitter and Instagram.

#Collegeadmissions #Acceptance #EarlyDecision #EarlyAction #RegularDecision #Waitlists #CollegeDeferrals #Admissionnotifications