After you’ve been recruited and wooed by a college, it can be incredibly difficult to say the “no thank you” to one of them. Here’s our advice for how to decline a college acceptance:
1. Say “yes!” to your chosen school
First, inform your chosen school that you’ll be attending. Submit your deposit before the deadline. Then, write your admissions representative a note — email is fine — to thank them for their help and give them the good news. You’ll likely see them on campus, and they may be one of your first mentors.
2. Be courteous when you decline
In turn, write a note to the admissions representative(s) at 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.
3. Don’t burn bridges
Always be polite in your decline, because you never know when you may connect with that person or that institution again.
Once, I had a student who had to make a tough decision between two colleges. 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 get your hopes up. Instead, realize your paths may cross again — and you want them to remember you positively.
Sample email for declining a college acceptance
Use this template to communicate to a school that you’ve chosen another college. Write a short email to your primary admissions representative at each school you’re declining. Send each note individually, not as a group.
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. After serious consideration of my options, I have decided to attend YYYYYY College instead. I wanted to let you know as soon as I made my decision.
Thank you again for your assistance in my college search.
Sincerely [or Wishing You the Best],
What if they call you?
It’s possible, although not likely, that a college you decline will call you. They may want to know the reasons for your decision. This is often very helpful information to the admissions office as they refine their recruitment process. You are not obligated to tell them your reasons, but you may choose to do so. In most cases, you can give a general response (larger financial award from another school, geographic location, etc.). If you had an unpleasant experience at a college, this would be a time to let them know.
How to decline a college acceptance
- Say “yes!” to your chosen school
- Be courteous when you decline
- Don’t burn bridges
Need support during your college search? My College Planning Team offers academic and financial services to help you get into — and pay for — your first-choice school. Schedule a free consultation to learn more.