5 Must-Read Tips for College Decision Day

For high school seniors, May 1 is no ordinary spring day…it’s Decision Day!

By now, you’ve already weighed the pros and cons of every school that offered you admission (and its financial aid package) — and you’ve made your choice. So, what’s next?

Here are five key tips that will help you get through Decision Day — and the rest of the school year.

1. How to Talk About Your Acceptances (and Rejections)

You may be thrilled to be heading to your dream school, or you may be disappointed to be attending your safety school (even if it is — as every school you apply to should be — a place you’ll be happy at). Either way, talking about your college plans can be fraught.

When discussing your own plans, you can respond to questions in a polite and straightforward way (depending on your comfort level). When you’re talking with your friends and peers about their plans, you’ll want to follow their lead. If they seem happy, then by all means, celebrate with them. If they are unhappy, be empathetic and supportive.

With those closest to you, you should pause to revel in your accomplishments — and get excited about where you’re going.

For more tips, read this etiquette guide for talking about your college plans.

2. What to Do If You’re Really, Really Not Happy About Where You’re Going

While you should only apply to schools you would be happy to attend, you may have your heart set on a particular school — one that has not admitted you. The first thing you should do is research the school you are attending: Find reasons to be excited about it. Are there courses you can’t wait to take, or professors you’re keen to learn from? Does the school have an amazing college radio station? Is there a robust athletic program? Are you planning to audition for a stellar a cappella group?

You may have your heart set on transferring colleges — and that may ultimately be the best path for you. But you may also plan to transfer and then find that you’re happy where you are.

If you do attend a school (whether it’s your dream school or your safety school) that truly isn’t the right fit, be sure to consider these key questions before transferring.

3. What to Do If You’ve Been Waitlisted

If you’ve been waitlisted at your top-choice school, you’ll need to put in a deposit at another institution. (Should you get into your top-choice school later, you’ll almost certainly lose that deposit money.) Take some time to research your new school — and get excited about it. Perhaps it’s not the big-name school you’d hoped to attend, but it’s likely still an incredible school where you’ll get a great education. Start re-conceiving of your Plan B as a Plan A.

That said, you may get into your top choice off the waitlist — and, depending on the timeline of your admission, you may find yourself scrambling (sometimes even the day before move-in!). If you stay flexible and positive, you can ensure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Follow these 12 steps to increase your chances of getting in off the waitlist.

4. What to Do If You Were Admitted as a January Freshman

For many students (an increasing number), admission offers come with a caveat — matriculation in January. This is great news for students who are able to attend their top-choice schools. But it also means that they won’t be on the same timeline as most of their peers. If you’ve been admitted as a January freshman, make plans to do something productive and fulfilling between now and move-in date. Many of the benefits of taking a gap year can also be realized during a gap semester.

Find out more about making the most of your January freshman experience.

5. Worst-Case Scenarios: What to Do If You Weren’t Admitted Anywhere, Or If Your Offer Was Rescinded

While these worst-case scenarios are both unlikely to occur, if you find yourself in an undesirable situation, take heart: There are steps you can take to get onto a better path.

If you didn’t get into any colleges, you have a number of options, including enrolling at a community college and then transferring to a four-year school, applying to a school with rolling admissions, and taking a gap year.

Learn more about what to do if you were rejected from all of the schools you applied to.

It’s also unlikely that your offer of admission will be rescinded — particularly since there are steps you can take to ensure this does not happen. These include keeping your grades up, staying out of trouble, and ensuring that you always provide colleges with true and accurate information. If you receive a letter from a college saying that your offer of admission is in jeopardy, take it seriously, and be proactive about addressing the school’s areas of concern. If your acceptance is ultimately rescinded (again, an unlikely scenario), you can opt to enroll in a community college and then transfer to a four-year school.

Find out more about what to do if your offer of admission was rescinded.