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What to do while waiting to hear...

College Acceptances are coming…now what?

Break out the chocolate and balloons, college acceptance letters are trickling in. A large number of schools send out admission responses in March and April. The admissions officers at colleges around the nation are feverishly reading applications, essays, and letters. They are pouring over every nuance trying to put together a great freshman class. Some won’t get there until April 30th.

Take the UCs. Many of the UCs send out their acceptances in March, however Berkeley, UCLA, and UC San Diego take a bit longer making students wait until the end of March. UC Santa Cruz application decision date was March 15 in 2017.

Then there is May 1st. D Day, Decision Day, Deposit Day. This is the day when students decide which college they wish to attend. Yikes, that’s a lot to get ready for.

Students pace ruts in the carpet; parents feel powerless. Gee, sounds like a great time of year! Hang in there seniors. Here are some tips on surviving:

Think Positive

Your friend heard from her first school and you haven’t. Time to panic? No. Take a breath, most admissions officers going through stacks and stacks of admissions notify students as they make a decision. Even students in the same school will hear at different times. It could be that you are applying for engineering and your pal is applying to medieval history or biology. They may have different timelines. Also remember that you applied to a different group of schools. Just because you haven’t heard do not assume anything! But my friend who has exactly the same grades and test scores got in, what did I do wrong? NOTHING! You didn't do anything "wrong" the decisions that admissions officers make are based on a large number of factors from gender balance; geographical, ethnic, academic, socio-economic diversity; and the myriad other factors that go into crafting a freshman class.

Keep your hopes up, but be realistic

Prepare for the worst. If you have been smart about selecting colleges, then this won’t be too bad. Your college list should include a range of schools, but every one of them should be a school you would like to attend.

So you didn’t get into your top two, as long as the rest are a good fit it isn’t the end of the world as you know it. Life ain’t over because you didn’t get into IReallyWannaGoThere University. Your list should have schools that you are very likely to get into considering your grades and other wonderful attributes.

If your list didn’t have a a good range, again, not the end of the world. There are some terrific schools out there that have openings after all of the dust settles. There are colleges with rolling admissions, which means they keep taking applications until they fill up their freshman class. There are schools with later application decision dates, even into June or July. You might want to consider a gap year, or starting out in community college.

Something to keep in mind, according to government researchers 75% of students are accepted by their first choice schools. Hmm…


If you haven't done it already, get your FAFSA and your CSS:Profile filed ASAP. Check the school for deadlines or extensions. Remember you are using prior-prior year tax information. So if you are the entering class of 2019, use 2017. For class of 2020, use 20188. The FAFSA is used by all schools. Only some private schools require the CSS:Profile.

UC and CSU FAFSA deadline is March 2.

DO NOT call the admissions office

Calling the admissions office to ask about your application in the midst of decision time is like poking a rattlesnake. They are swamped and working as fast as they can. Admissions officers are deluged by larger number of applications each year. Don’t harass them! You will only irritate them, and waste their time replying to your panicked phone calls. Try meditation, or chocolate. Ohm…let the chocolate melt on your tongue, ohm…let the sweetness tantalize your taste buds…ohm…. If you have a legitimate reason to call because you would like to add a recent achievement that occurred since you applied, and you want to know how to let them know. But be very polite and understanding.


Does your school offer interviews either on-site or via phone/Skype. It's okay to call and request an interview. It gives the admissions officers a chance to get to know you. Neither the UCs nor the CSUs have an interview program, with a few exceptions.


Visit as many of the campuses you have applied to as possible. Even if you won't know until April 1 in the middle of Spring Break. If you can travel there, do. If not, check out the website and become as familiar with it as you can.

Course Offerings

Check out the course offerings. Do the schools on your list have the courses you are interested in. If you have changed your direction since beginning the college process, that's fine! Pour over the courses and find the ones your are anxious to try.

Check the web (but not every five minutes)

Most schools have savvy computer thingies that allow you to track your application status. Use the tools that Microsoft and Apple gave you. Check to make sure all of the materials required for your application have arrived (do that soon after application). Start an account at all of your schools to keep track of your application status. Check to make sure all of your application and financial aid documents are accounted listed as received.

Try not to drive your friends, and family, crazy

Don’t take your frustrations out on everyone around you, especially not other seniors. They can’t control the admissions process. Your parents who have done all sorts of wonderful and helpful things in the past are just as anxious as you are.

Be kind and considerate to your classmates. If you hear good news, share it quietly, no touchdown dances and backflips. Not everyone has heard. Tell your family and celebrate with abandon, but make sure you are aware that others have not been so fortunate.

Get back into the senior groove and graduate

The worst thing a student can do is get the acceptance letter and decide to goof off for the rest of the year. If you fail a class or get below a certain grade your college will snatch that acceptance back. Don’t decide to push the envelope and get in trouble at school. The colleges are still watching, and they can drop you like the proverbial hot potato.

Focus on the future

Make sure you know all there is to know about the schools you have applied to. You may find out that the school 6th on your list is really the best fit. Make sure you and your parents fill out and file the FAFSA and other forms for financial aid. Remember, some colleges won’t grant merit aid if they have not seen your FAFSA

Last tip:


So, Get Smart:

Think positive

Keep your hopes up, but be realistic

Don’t call the admissions office

Check your application status on the web

Try not to drive everyone crazy

Get your senior graduation groove going

Look forward, the future is out there waiting for you

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