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What to Consider as Decision Day Approaches

Decision Day is coming up, and by "Decision Day" I mean the date by which students must commit to the college they plan to attend in the fall.

When Is Decision Day, and What Does That Mean, Exactly?

Traditionally, Decision Day is May 1. This year, due to the difficulties encountered with the new FAFSA, and the resulting impact on financial aid packages, some colleges have extended those enrollment deadlines. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has published a list of colleges who have pushed those dates to May 15, June 1, and even beyond that.

What Does It Mean to "Commit" to a College?

Simply put, once you have sent an enrollment deposit to a college, you have accepted that college's offer of admission. By doing so, you are effectively refusing all other admission offers and relinquishing your place at any other college.

Can You Commit to More Than One College?

Technically, yes. Ethically, no. (With one exception.)

In the Common App, students sign an affirmation stating they will send an enrollment deposit to only one institution, and that sending multiple deposits may result in the withdrawal of admission offers from all institutions.

So even if you can afford to forfeit multiple enrollment deposits, it is not ethical to commit to multiple colleges. By doing so, you are taking a spot from another student, and you are misleading colleges about your intentions.

What's the Exception?

If you have been waitlisted by your top choice college (College A), it is reasonable for you to send an enrollment deposit to one college where you've received an admission offer (College B) and plan to attend. Then, if you are chosen from the waitlist of College A, you should notify College B immediately so they may offer admission to another student.

What Should I Do If I'm Waitlisted?

First, if you are still interested in attending the college, accept the spot on the waitlist.

Then check the college's website for information on how they want you to proceed. Some colleges have a form for you to complete. Some colleges would like to see updated grades, another letter of recommendation, or a Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI). Some colleges don't want you to do anything other than accept your spot.

You can accept multiple waitlist spots. But where it comes to writing and sending a LOCI, send only one. That's because your LOCI should state that College A is your first choice and that if accepted, you will attend. Ethically, it isn't right to tell Colleges B, C, and D that they are also your first choice. You can only attend one college.

For more great advice on navigating waitlists, check out this post from Forster Thomas.

What If I Still Haven't Made Up My Mind?

That's completely fine. It's a big decision, especially when you have multiple attractive admission offers. You have some time to think. Just be sure to make your decision and send your enrollment deposit by the deadline.