How should/shouldn't applicants react to admission decisions when they come out in March?
Great question. Admit/deny decisions will help to pare down your college list right off the bat, but there are several important things to keep in mind between receiving your offers of admission and committing to a college:
First and most importantly, take a deep breath and remember not to take decisions (especially negative ones) personally. A college you build up in your mind to be your “dream school” might wait-list or deny your application for admission, but that in no way reflects on your worth or merit. The admissions process is competitive, and one school may find you to be a better “fit” than others.
Compare your financial aid packages and any scholarships given by each school. For many students and their families, different overall costs can make a big difference in terms of attendance. That said, a more expensive school may be able to offer you a level of rigor and different experiences than a college with a lower price tag. While cost can be a big factor to your decision-making, fit is ultimately just as important. Be open and honest with your family (or yourself, if you’re paying for college) about what is financially feasible. Think about tuition, room and board, as well as extras like spending money and travel expenses to get to/from school.
If you’re looking at specific departments, double-check to see if your top choices offer the kinds of majors or programs you’re interested in. True story: some students end up committing to a college only to find that the school doesn’t actually offer veterinary studies/engineering/etc. It never hurts to double check.
Try to visit campus or talk with current students if you haven’t already. It’s hard to quantify or describe the “feel” of a school, especially if you haven’t experienced it first-hand. Most colleges offer overnight visits for prospective students; if it’s feasible to visit, your first-hand experience with the college can help you determine if the school feels like the place for you.
One absolute rule: students should not make deposits at multiple schools. Colleges may revoke your offer for admission if they find this to be the case. But you *should* make a deposit at a college to which you have been admitted on or before May 1— even if you were wait-listed at your dream school. We want to make sure you have a college home for next year, and having deposited at a school to which you were admitted won’t be an issue for potential admission off of a waitlist— you’ll just forfeit your deposit at the school to which you were accepted if you are later admitted off of a waitlist and decide to attend that school.