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College Admissions: Committing to a College by May 1

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


By now you should have heard back from all the colleges to which you applied. Hopefully, you are feeling very excited about your options! During the month of April you will decide where to attend and make a commitment to one of the schools that accepted you.

Please note these ethical and etiquette practices:

1. No college can pressure you in any way to make a commitment to attend prior to May 1 (unless you applied binding early decision). All schools have agreed that applying pressure to increase their "yield rate" (the % of students they offer spots to that actually come) violates ethical standards. It is a good idea to wait until you receive all aid packages before making your choice. You also may want to visit (or revisit) your top 2-3 choices during April (if that's reasonable for your family) because you are different now than you were when you applied and your priorities and preferences may have changed.

2. It is unethical for you to double deposit! You absolutely may not tell more than one school that you are coming in the fall. If you do double deposit and are caught, both colleges may revoke your admission. Don't do it! If you are struggling to choose (by May 1) between great options, please talk to your school counselor, parents or another trusted advisor to get help with your decision. You can get some other tips from my past two columns “Deciding Where to Attend” and “Undecided on your College? Try Guided Visualization”.

3. You must commit somewhere by May 1 and send in your required deposit. This is not a flexible deadline because after May 1 schools that did not meet their enrollment targets may accept students off their waitlist. It is also polite to tell the schools you didn't pick that you are denying their offer of admission because you have chosen X college. This allows them to keep cross-application data, and it also may allow them to take students off of their waitlist. Remember, your third choice is definitely some other student's first choice!

4. Thank everyone who helped you. Let your recommenders, test-prep tutors, and anyone else who supported you know where you have decided to go to college. A handwritten thank-you note (rather than an email or text) is appropriate. (Don’t forget to thank your parents, too.)

Once you have decided, celebrate! You can have a great college experience at whatever school you ultimately choose. Remember, it is not where you go to college, but what you do when you get there that matters most in your future.


Jodi Walder-Biesanz is the founder of Portland, Oregon-based College Admission Coach LLC, which helps students identify and gain admission to right-fit schools where they will thrive academically and personally. Contact her at [email protected].


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