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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Silbernagel

National College Decision Day 2.0

Updated: Apr 30, 2021

The steps to take after committing to a college

National college decision day, congrats Class of 2021

Seniors across the country are celebrating National College Decision Day. May 1 is typically the deadline for students to commit to their chosen college. Students officially notify their college of their intent to enroll in the fall and make their deposits to save their spot. And then they take a selfie and share their news with the world.

But there are a few more notifications seniors should make before the celebrations and social shares monopolize their screen time.

Students should also contact the colleges they will not attend in the fall to notify them of their decision.

Why? Well, let me tell you...

Because it is the courteous thing to do

Admission officers very often become invested in the students they recruit. They've read your file, recommended you to the admission committee, and perhaps recommended you for a scholarship. Show your appreciation for their hard work and their trust in you!

Because it creates goodwill and good relationships

Many admission officers have positive relationships with schools and counselors that allow them to take chances on candidates that the high school advocates for -- students whose grades or scores might be below profile. You are helping future students from your school by being considerate and professional.

Plus you never know if you may want to transfer. Make sure the most recent thing in your admission file is a positive correspondence.

And you may have a younger sibling or friend who will attend this university. How can a good relationship that helps other people be a bad thing?

Because your 'No, thank you,' is someone else’s 'Yes, please.'

Many colleges have waitlists of applicants waiting to hear if their might be "movement" in their applicant pool and space for them. The earlier the college knows who will or will not be attending the college, the sooner they may be able to offer a spot to a student on the waitlist. It's a trickle down effect and you play a part in the admissions flow.

What should you say?

Say 'Thank you,' as well as 'No, thank you.'

You can say:

‘Thank you for taking time with my credentials.’

‘Thank you for answering my questions.’

‘Thank you for offering me a scholarship,’ etc.,

'...but, I will be attending another college’ (you can say the name of your attending college if you feel comfortable, but you don't have to.)

How should you say it?

Colleges have different methods of being notified:

Your online application portal may give you the option to decline your offer and say where you are going.

You may have received a packet in the mail with a postcard that asks for you to respond if you are declining the offer.

Or you can email the rep who has been working with you -- usually the admissions representative for your region.

Don’t feel awkward

Some students say they feel uncomfortable declining an offer, especially if they have been in touch with the admissions department frequently. Don’t worry about it. Many colleges admit more students than will actually attend and many students decline their offers. It happens all the time and you shouldn’t feel awkward.


This is also a great time for students to thank the other people who helped them along the way. High school counselors and teacher recommendation writers would love to know your final choice.

Congratulations, class of 2021 on a successful end to your college search and application process!


Do you have questions about navigating college admissions? I'm here to help!


Special thanks to Evelyn Jerome Alexander and Tara Dowling for their content contributions and great advice.


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