You've Received a College Acceptance Letter — What's Next?
You've received your first college acceptance letter, and you're bubbling with excitement!
After you've shared the news with your loved ones and celebrated this major accomplishment, you're left with some choices to make. Is this school "the one?" Are you ready to commit?
There's no need to jump immediately at the opportunity. In fact, it definitely serves you to weigh your options and make the right decision for you. So before you commit, here are some steps to take after receiving a college acceptance letter.
1. Weigh Your Options
Receiving your first college acceptance letter is exciting, but it is not the end all be all. You may have more acceptance letters on the way to your mailbox.
Even if you think your heart is set on one specific school, it's smart to wait for other options. For example, you may get an unexpected scholarship from another school that you just can't refuse. It's important to consider a variety of factors before making your decision.
In the meantime, stay organized. You may want to keep all of your letters in a folder with a running list of where you've been accepted and which schools you're waiting to hear back from. This will make it easier to review the documents and offers once you are closer to making a decision.
2. Do Your Research
You likely did some preliminary research while you were applying to schools, but now that you're receiving offers, things are getting real. It's time to dig deeper and get to know more about the schools you're considering.
A few things to find out about each of your options include:
Also, read up on each school's academic offerings as part of your research. Although you don't have to declare a major right away, it's important to make sure your chosen school has a program that aligns with your future goals.
Many schools have student ambassadors who are available to answer any questions you may have. You can contact them online, or you can connect with them in person if you schedule a campus visit.
3. Crunch the Numbers
Cost is an important determinant when it comes to choosing a school. Admissions letters are often accompanied by scholarship offers and financial aid estimates. You will want to factor these offers in when determining the cost that remains to be covered out of pocket, by loans, etc.
Consider the differences between in-state, out-of-state and international tuition as you compare costs. If you're looking at an out-of-state school, see if there's an option to declare residency after a year or two to reduce your costs.
If you're choosing a local school, look into grants for state residents because you may be eligible simply by graduating from an in-state high school.
4. Talk to Friends, Family and Mentors
Making the decision of which college to attend can feel overwhelming. That's why it's important to talk it out with those who are close to you or have experience with choosing a school.
Whether it's a parent, an older sibling, or your high school guidance counselor, find someone you trust to walk by your side through this process. Brainstorm, brain dump and weigh your options.
Plus, those who have attended college will likely pick up on things or ask questions that may have never crossed your mind, so their insight can be super valuable.
It's important to recognize that while your loved ones might have a lot of experience, wisdom and opinions, the choice is ultimately yours.
5. Visit Your Top Schools in Person or Virtually
You can't beat the experience of visiting your preferred schools before making your decision. A school may look great on paper, but nothing makes up for that real first impression.
Whether it's through a self-guided tour, a group tour or a virtual tour, touring your top schools will likely affect how you feel about the school and reveal more information about the location, academics and environment. Many students will say that visiting a school is what ultimately influenced their final decision.
6. Submit Your Decision on Time
Once you've made a decision, it's time to accept the admission offer from your chosen school.
Typically, you'll submit your decision along with an enrollment deposit. This is usually for around $200-$600, and since it's a deposit, it will be applied to your balance for the first semester. Some schools offer waivers in instances of financial need or other qualifiers.
Make sure you're keeping track of the enrollment deposit, housing application and other deadlines. Schools that have accepted you should keep you in the loop with approaching deadlines, but it's a good idea to be proactive.
After you've submitted your decision, you have some time to submit the rest of the required documents and information to ensure a smooth start in the fall.
Here are a few things that you'll need to submit after you pay your enrollment deposit:
- Final high school transcripts
- Proof of residency (for in-state tuition)
- Proof of insurance (if opting out of the university's policy)
- Copy of your birth certificate
- Housing application
Look for important information from your school on how to submit these documents.
7. Get Ready to Start College
Once you've committed to your chosen school by submitting your enrollment deposit, it's time to get ready for college! Unless you're starting in the summer term, you'll have a few months to prepare.
However, now's the time to start meeting people from your new school. This will help you make some friends and get to know your future classmates. Attend admitted students events, check out online meetups and follow your future school's official social media channels to stay connected.
In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your days in high school.
How Long Do I Have to Accept a College's Offer of Admission?
Every school has different rules for when you have to accept college admission and enroll. Usually, the enrollment deposits are due in the spring around the time of graduation. However, some schools have earlier deadlines, especially for more competitive programs.
Here at Bucknell University, we have separate deadlines for Early Decision and Regular Decision applicants. Early Decision applicants must submit their enrollment deposits by either the Early Decision I (mid-January) or Early Decision II deadline (mid-March), whereas Regular Decision applicants have until May.
Every student has to submit their final high school transcripts by July 1 to secure their admission.
Thinking of deferring your admission to another semester? Students who wish to defer admission must submit their requests by June 1.
Looking for more information on admissions and enrollment? Visit our Admissions Blog, listen to our podcast to learn more about specific topics, or request more information on our website!