Checklist: Accepting a College Offer

To accept a college offer, carefully follow the instructions listed in your acceptance letter. Those notifications that you’ve been waiting for are arriving in your mailbox or email box now. If you’ve been accepted by more than one school, you have choices to make, important ones, and you may feel overwhelmed. This checklist will help you make the best possible decision as you sort through your options.

Important Steps

  • You don’t want to rush into a decision, but you do need to take note of the response deadline for each school. Lay out a calendar with each important date marked boldly. If you don’t respond in time, the school can and will give away your spot.
  • Make a list of any questions you still have about any of the schools. Some things to think about are the financial aid package, the strength of the school’s program in your major, and the environment on and off campus.
  • Contact the parties who can answer those questions for you or give you more information. For example, you might want to talk to some current students to find out what they do for fun, or you may contact professors in your field of study who teach at that school. Of course, the internet is an extensive research tool, but be sure you’re getting your information from reliable sources.
  • If you haven’t visited the campus, you should. If at all possible, seeing the school in person gives you firsthand knowledge that you can’t get any other way. You may even want to visit a school more than once if time and distance allow.
  • Do some soul-searching. Find some quiet time to really think about how you feel about each school. Process through the things you loved about the campus, things that were unfamiliar, and the things that cause you concern.
  • Try an old-fashioned pros and cons list. Make a sheet for each school with two columns. List the things you like about the school and the things you don’t. Be honest with yourself.
  • Take a look at the financial aid package offered to you by each school. Sit down with a calculator and put pen to paper to create a written plan for each school. How much will you have to come up with out of your own pocket to attend each institution on your list?
  • Don’t rush. Though you do have deadlines to meet, you can still take your time and gather all the information you need to make the best decision for you.

What to Do Once You Decide

Once you decide on a school, review the acceptance letter carefully and follow the instructions explicitly. Usually, you will need to do the following things, but there may be additional requirements for your school:

  • Send in a formal acceptance document either via mail or online.
  • Make a deposit to hold your spot.
  • Confirm with the business office which parts of your financial aid package you are accepting.

In all the excitement, don’t forget to notify the schools that you didn’t select. That’s just good etiquette, so they can offer the spot to someone on the waiting list. If your first choice school doesn’t work out, you may need another option, so it’s best to stay on good terms.