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What To Do Once You Get Accepted To Colleges

If you’re currently applying to colleges, or a parent of said future college student, I’ve pulled together some tips for how to choose a college when you have several choices. 

Many students apply to multiple colleges and then it’s the waiting game of crossing fingers and getting acceptance [and rejection] notices back.  That can help to narrow the options but then what to do when you have several good schools to choose from that have sent acceptance letters. 

Here are some ideas, some with a psychological spin, considering the source (me!):

1.Compare Costs – What is the annual tuition, what financial aid have you been offered, scholarships, etc.  Don’t forget to factor in costs such as travel to out-of-state schools and housing price differences (room and board).  Did you know you can appeal your financial aid package as well?  Don’t let cost be the only factor in deciding which college to attend, but consider that it is generally one of the important factors to consider.

2.Visit The Schools – if you have not done so already, visiting the schools you have been accepted to and are considering is a good use of your time and resources.  Set up a campus tour and take some time to see the place in person and see whether you have a sense one way or the other about the school.  My #1 choice when I was applying ended up feeling way too “big city” for me, but I would not have gathered that unless I had that campus tour.  Yes, there is expense involved in visiting schools out of the area, but it may just save you the money and heartache of picking a school that doesn’t feel like a good fit once you’re there.

3.Go To Admitted Student Events – some schools will have admitted student events either on their campus, and/or closer to our area.  Look for when and where those are.  Go get some free appetizers, meet other area students who may be going to that college, and talk with the college representatives.  Ask lots of questions.  It’s a small commitment to attend such an event, compared with the costs and scheduling of a campus visit (which I also do recommend, see #2) Admitted Students Days at the college campuses often are conveniently scheduled for over your high school’s spring break period, and can be fun – and informative.

4.Consider What Matters Most – What matters most to you (top couple of things) and narrow the list from there.  Do you have any “gut feeling” about any of the schools?  That is something to look for and consider, especially if you get to do a campus visit.

5.Check niche.com – for a side by side comparison and ratings on key areas for all the schools

6.Following Your Love Interest? – Please don’t make your decision of where to go to college based heavily on your current relationship or where your best friend is going.  If your relationships are strong, they will outlast time and distance anyway.

7.Don’t Rush But Don’t Totally Procrastinate – generally, you’ll have some time to decide before the deadlines to decide.  Take some time to think on it, do your research, visit, etc.  Don’t totally delay deciding though, because even though schools may not need to hear your decision until May 1st, campus housing opens up sooner than that and so deciding early enough helps you be able to pick your preferred housing. 

DIDN’T GET IN ANYWHERE YOU WANT TO GO?  Here are some options:

1.Apply Somewhere Else – Did you know it may not be too late to still go to a 4 year!  Apply to schools that have “rolling admissions” (generally open until May 1st) if you find any that look appealing and can still meet your other requirements (cost, distance, etc).  California state and UC schools have application deadlines but not all schools do.  With the competitive nature of CA schools especially, looking at out of state options and rolling admissions options may bring to light a great fit you would not have otherwise considered. 

2.Start at the Junior College – you can save money and then transfer to a four year college after you get a couple years of general education requirements out of the way.

3.Take a Gap Year – take time off to work or travel and apply again next year

4.Go With It – my college BFF our school was her “backup plan” school.  Yet we loved it and she excelled and she’s super successful, owns and runs two offices, and didn’t leave college with a ton of debt she would have incurred had she gotten in to her first choice option.  You will make friends and have experiences wherever you go/ whichever school you choose.  It’s gonna be OK.

5.Go With It and You Can Always Transfer – go where you got in, even if it’s not your favorite.  If you don’t like it after the first year, you can look at transferring or coming back to junior college.


When you decide which college you want to go to, then will come the important emails and portal items such as tuition deposit deadlines, signing up for orientation, and housing sign up and deposits to secure housing.  Sometimes you have to check the portals, sometimes you’ll receive email.  Be sure to check your email at least a couple times per week.  These items are very important to stay on top of but can sometimes fall through the cracks because they coincide with the timing of Senior Ball/ Prom, high school graduation, finals, etc.