Tedious college applications, thoughtful essays, glowing recommendations, intense interviews, OH MY! The whole college process…
You’ve probably seen the viral videos: excited families all huddled around a computer waiting to open the decision from your student’s top college. By now, you’ve probably experienced it several times as well.
There’s nothing quite like the joy you feel when your child opens the crisp and overflowing envelopes in the mail heralding the acceptance to each university or the email with a burst of virtual confetti.
The college acceptance process does not end here, however. In fact, there’s still quite a hustle through the spring until Decision Day hits.
After all the celebratory feels following your child’s college acceptance letter, here’s what you can do to help them make that all-important final choice.
6 Steps To Take Once You’ve Received Your College Acceptance Letter
Keep and organize all college acceptance information
Utilize a folder or binder for all mailed materials to keep track of paper college letter acceptances. Often, colleges will painstakingly list each enrollment step, including your student’s portal information, merit scholarship offers, housing sign-up details, and more. Unfortunately, many students discard the information before thoroughly examining it.
As a professional high school counselor, I can tell you how much of a headache it is to help students access these details again.
Help your child set up an electronic organization system as well. My students and their families have successfully used the following tactics:
- Drop college acceptance emails into specific inbox email folders
- Upload PDFs of each college acceptance email into Google Docs
- Use a spreadsheet that lists each college, portal information, and enrollment steps
Track deadlines for enrollment steps
In order for you and your family to be able to have time to do further research on the best fit of each college, you need to feel comfortable about how long you have to make a decision.
- Accept too soon and you may have a financial obligation to a college that is unaffordable for your family.
- Accept too late and your child may have no housing.
I’ve seen this happen where kids have had to choose a different school as they had no place to live on campus.
Notate the top contenders and important dates on the hard copy of the family calendar or add reminders to you and your child’s virtual calendar to stay on top of expected items like enrollment deposit deadlines, placement testing, housing sign-ups, etc.
Even if your family has been able to do college visits, now is the time to revisit either in person or virtually and ask more in-depth questions. Admitted student days are fabulous opportunities to connect with the incoming campus community.
Your child can also get connected on social media to admitted student groups, reviews of previous and current student ratings of the college, its dorms, food, or major. Ultimately, you and your child should evaluate if the college fits your child’s personality, career desires, and cultural needs before putting in a deposit and especially before taking out loans.
Additionally, how are those finances looking?
Cost Comparison Time
Most if not all colleges that accept your child will be looking for financial information to offer a financial package. Sometimes, kids forget to add colleges to their FAFSA and don’t understand why they haven’t received a package.
Double-check all FAFSA and CSS requests to ensure the colleges have received the financial information they need. Once your student receives their financial package (by email, in their portal, or by mail), you should compare the offers to see which college fits your family’s financial needs.
You can also review net price calculators of each college and compare that to the financial aid award letter you were given to see if the expected contribution amount matches what the college sent you. Consider a financial aid appeal as well.
Scholarships are in prime season from January to May as well. Assist your child in locating and applying to institutional scholarships (both departmental and other merit opportunities) and private scholarships to try and offset any family out-of-pocket costs.
Stay Strong and stay in communication
Senioritis hits hard in the spring. Communicating openly with your child is essential as a dip in their grades could mean the loss of merit aid or in extreme cases a loss of their acceptance. Your child should continue to review their grades and keep active in school until they walk across the stage.
And finally! COMMIT!
Once a final decision is made, help your child decline other college acceptances and pay any required deposits to their college of choice. Typically, these are the following items that need attention.
- Set up and review their college email address a few times a week
- Enrollment decision and deposit
- Housing form and deposit
- Orientation sign up
- Placement testing
- Final transcript requested from high school counselor after graduation
- Final AP scores sent or college transcripts requested for any dual credit courses
- Jobs on campus-investigate and apply for work-study or on-campus positions if desired
WHEW! Once that’s done, enjoy your final summer with your kiddo and get ready for an exciting fall with your new college freshman.
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