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College Admissions: 4 Tips for College Admissions Acceptance Month

Monday, February 28, 2011

 

During the month of March, mailmen all over America fear seniors in high school more than rabid dogs. Many students wait by the window each day watching for the mail delivery, hoping that acceptances will arrive. Gone are the days when you can guess about a rejection or acceptance based on the size of the envelope-most envelopes are small and many acceptances now come via e-mail or online portals. Nevertheless, March is a high stress month for families awaiting college admissions news. Here are some things that you need to know as your family navigates the stormy waters of admissions season.

1. Acceptance letters are a wonderful thing.

It’s a time for celebration, but be sensitive that others around you may have been rejected from the same school or from their top choice college. For families that must weigh financial aid packages, it’s a good idea to temper your enthusiasm until you have seen all the offers. Chances are that your acceptances will come at a variety of times, and many will be accompanied by a letter saying that in order to get the best housing or classes, you need to send a deposit now. We have seen a trend the last few years with colleges pressuring families to submit a deposit early on, before all their acceptances are in. However, the NACAC Principles of Good Practice state that colleges must allow students until May 1 to commit to regular decision offers and place a deposit-this does not apply to binding Early Decision programs. Bear in mind that double depositing (placing deposits at more than one college) is considered an ethical violation, and colleges may rescind an

offer if they determine that you have done this.

2. Rejection letters can be devastating, but they can also be a learning experience.

As parents, it’s time to lead by example and sympathize for a brief time, then move on. If you find yourself or your child lamenting a rejection more than a few days, you need to redirect your energy toward all the wonderful things about the colleges where the student was (or will be) accepted. Many of America’s most successful and famous people were rejected at their first choice college, and they say that the school they ultimately attended made them who they are today. We all have to face rejection at some point in life, so use this as a teaching moment to prepare students for future disappointments.

3. News that you have been placed on a waiting list is very stressful for students - it draws admissions anxiety out for weeks longer.

The reality is that many of the most competitive colleges place thousands of students on a waiting list and take just a handful.  Duke placed more than 3,300 students on the waiting list last year, but rarely offers acceptance to more than 50 each year. On the other hand, Boston University placed 1,944 students on the waiting list in 2010 and ultimately accepted 1,146! Call colleges where you are wait-listed and ask about their numbers from the previous year to assess where you stand. Also understand that when colleges get to the point of accepting wait-listed students, finances almost always come into play. This is a situation in which even the wealthiest colleges have very little aid left-so offers of admission from the waiting list often go to full paying students.

4. By far, the worst situation is the one in which a student is accepted to a top choice college but the financial aid package does not meet the family’s needs.

In this scenario, it is important to know that the aid package you receive is NOT set in stone. Colleges typically reserve 10-15% of their overall financial aid pool for appeals. Ask the financial aid office at your desired college what their process is and the timeline. Then write a letter respectfully stating why you need additional funds, document any higher offers that you received, and tell the college that if they can meet your needs, you will attend.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC, a private college admissions counseling company based in Providence, Rhode Island. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com

 

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