So, you’ve finally made your college decision — where you will spend your next few years. And now you have to officially decline a college acceptance!
How difficult that decision can be! If the choice was not made crystal clear by your own love for one school over the other, or for a significantly better financial offer, you may be feeling a bit sad about having to choose the “better” of two or more great options.
Doesn’t it remind you of the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken?
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could…
Just like the traveler in the poem, we wish we could peer down the paths and see the future awaiting us in either place.
Such is life! Because we can’t see the future, we must instead embrace it and create our own future. Wherever you are, you must be the best you can be!
Hard to Say Goodbye
After you’ve been recruited and wooed by a college and may have really gotten to know your college admissions representatives, it can be incredibly difficult to say the “no thank you” to one of them. So I have some simple advice:
Inform Your Admissions Rep
Once you’ve made your decision, submit your deposit before the deadline, and then write your admissions representative a note (email is fine) to let them know you’re attending. Thank them for all their help and give them the good news! You will likely see them on campus, and they really may be the first of your mentors at that college.
Decline Your Acceptance Courteously
In turn, write a note to the rep(s) of the college(s) you are declining. You will be giving them the courtesy of your gratitude and you may be opening up your place to another waiting student.
Don’t Burn Any Bridges
Have you heard that saying before? It means to not end a relationship in a way that you may be sorry. You never know when you may need to “cross that bridge”—or renew that relationship–again. Always be courteous and polite in your decline. You simply never know when you may connect with that person or that institution again. To decline a college is not very different from declining a job offer, so remember that for the future.
This year, one of my students finally made his decision but it was really tough for him. He politely informed the admissions rep that he had chosen “the other” college. He received a very nice letter from the rep along with a revised financial aid offer—of several thousand dollars more!
Now, that doesn’t happen very often, so don’t expect it to happen to you! Instead, realize that your paths may cross again, and you want them to remember you in a positive way. You can never predict how your connection to that person might be useful to you someday.
Here is a Sample Email You Can Use to Decline a College Acceptance
Feel free to use this example of a simple email communicating that you’ve chosen another college. Just write a short email to your primary representative at each (individually, not as a group), to each of the colleges you are declining:
Dear Ms. _____ [or you can say Dear Jennifer if you’ve talked with them many times],
I am writing to thank you for the acceptance and scholarship offers from XXXX College, but after serious consideration of my options, I have decided to attend YYYYYY College. I wanted to let you know as soon as I made my decision.
Thank you again for all your assistance in my college search.
Sincerely [or Wishing You the Best],
What if They Call You?
It is possible, although not likely, that you would be called or contacted by a college that you’ve declined. They may want to know the reasons for your decline. This is often very helpful information to the admissions office as they refine their recruitment process. While you are not obligated to tell them your reasons, if you choose to do so, you. In most cases, you can be very general (larger financial award from another school, geographic location, etc.). If you had any unpleasant experience at a college, this would be a time to let them know.