College or Bust! What to Do in Each Admissions Situation

April showers may bring May flowers, but April packets cause a racket when it comes to the college decision process. Just when you finally think you’re reaching the end of a journey, you open a letter to find another chapter waiting for you. Where do you go? What do you do? It’s kind of like a real-life version of “Choose Your Own Adventure.

female student checking mailbox

Here’s how to deal with every admissions scenario:

1. Accepted (your first choice)

Inform the school of your intention for fall enrollment, and start preparing a May deposit check. Woohoo!

2. Accepted (two first-choice schools)

You’re in a love triangle. Like any good romantic protagonist, you could make a pros and cons list, or you could also have two “one last” flings with the schools (e.g., visiting the campuses). If you can’t visit the campuses again, think about the feeling you had at both campuses when you first stepped foot on them. Close your eyes and picture yourself at school in the fall: Where are you? Other things to consider include financial aid packages, accessibility to transportation home, and majors/fields of interest. But all in all, the most important indicator of your future alma mater is your gut. Listen to it because it rarely fails you.

3. Rejected (your first choice)

First, know that you are most definitely not alone. More and more college applications are going out every year which means that more and more students are getting rejected, too. There may be only a few spots available, and while you may have been qualified to attend said first-choice school, the school just didn’t have room—it’s nothing against you personally. Wade through your accepted schools and concentrate on them—remember, someone still wants you somewhere!

4. Rejected (everywhere!)

The film Accepted was based on this premise, where Bartleby Gaines (Justin Long) was rejected from every school he applied to, leaving him in the lurch for fall semester, which caused him to create a fake school called “South Harmon Institute of Technology.” While you don’t need to resort to such means, there’s no need to panic. You can attend community college and then transfer to a school later. Not only is this something more and more college students are doing, but it’s also more financially feasible in the long run.

5. Wait-listed

The good news is that some wait-listed students eventually receive acceptance, but usually, it’s like one in five students. If you really really really want to go to a school where you are wait-listed, there are ways you can improve your odds, including contacting the school, requesting an interview, or submitting new information (like relevant test scores), according to Tamara Krause at WiseChoice.