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National College Decision Day: Ready Or Not, Here It Comes!

national college decision day

For many high school seniors and their families, the end of April feels like it’s near the end of a long (possibly sweaty) but rewarding hike. May is the summit of 4 long years with final exams, AP tests, and the all-important senior activities to enjoy the end of the journey.

But what will the end of the journey bring? 

What Is National College Decision Day?

This Sunday, May 1st is known across the U.S. as College Decision Day 2022 and seniors are making final choices on where they want to go to college. This deadline is shared by many colleges asking their prospective students to commit to attending in the fall and hold their spot with an enrollment deposit, letter of intent, or both. It’s also a day where students across the country share their future plans and excitement on social media or at in-person celebrations.

But how do you and your student know the decision is the right one? What if your family isn’t ready to make that decision?

Here are a few tips for families, no matter where they’re at in their decision process to smooth out the end of the trip. 

College Decision Tips: How To Know Whether Or Not Your Student Is Ready To Commit

Ready to Commit Vibes

Here are some indicators that a decision is in order!

  1. The social aspects of the campus meet your child’s needs and they can visualize themself there. If they haven’t been able to visit the campus, make sure to do a virtual visit. College recruitment brochures are nice but they’re marketing materials designed to show only the best version of the school. You don’t want to be surprised with a call from your baby when they step foot into a non-air-conditioned dorm that’s the size of a mouse house.
  2. The academics fit your child’s needs and there are several majors they can pursue (*hint* they might change majors while in college). Research and identify supports on campus your child can access like tutoring and mental health services.
  3. Your family is ready to put down the deposit and secure housing.
  4. You and your child have a financial plan to pay for college that doesn’t break the bank and you feel at peace.


Once the deposit is made, you’re not done! Check out this blog for other “after admissions” steps.


Not Into It Vibes

If your child isn’t feeling positive about their decision or is missing essential information about their top choice college, there’s still some wiggle room after May 1st to make the decision. There’s also a small window to apply for colleges with openings after May 1st if the academic, social or financial fit isn’t there.


Here are a few situations where delaying a decision might make sense:

  1. Your family doesn’t have the financial aid package yet. Enrollment deposits are non-refundable so you could lose out if you commit to a college without knowing what financial choices you’ll be making. Triage this issue by calling financial aid for an evaluation. It could be your kiddo forgot to add the school on their FAFSA or the financial aid package is in your child’s portal just waiting to be viewed.
  2. Your child’s choice isn’t affordable for your family. In this situation, reach out to the financial aid office immediately and look into an appeal or compare your child’s other offers for a better financial fit.
  3. Your child is unsure about going to college. Feeling some anxiety about such a huge life transition is normal. If your child feels unusually overwhelmed about college or can’t pinpoint why they want to go, take some time to reflect on their concerns and consider alternate options like community college, gap year programs, military, trades, or work. 


Delaying A Decision Is Fine, But Keep These 2 Essentials In Mind!

Trouble With Housing

If your child is pretty sure about their decision, but won’t be depositing on May 1st, check in with the housing department at your child’s prospective school to evaluate housing capacity and ask if all freshmen are guaranteed a spot in the dorms. I’ve had students who still had an admissions spot but found out their college’s dorms were full so they had to pivot.

Remaining Open Spots

Check in with admissions offices about their latest application and enrollment dates. Some colleges allow enrollment all the way through July, while others may only be able to hold a spot until shortly after Decision Day.

Ready To Share Your News?!

Join Michelle Obama and the Better Make Room crew for a virtual college signing day on May 7th and share your best Decision Day picture with the hashtag #collegesigningday to join in on social media channels.

Kate Kaushal has been a professional high school counselor in the Chicago Public School system since 2011 and has played many roles including: senior academic and social emotional counselor, post secondary counselor, head of counseling, ACT test coordinator, CPS selective enrollment test proctor and master counselor for the district.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Saint Xavier University and a Master’s in School Counseling from Roosevelt University. Prior to 2011, she worked in various positions in social service, including a partner organization to DCFS, a group home for young men, and an experiential outdoor education camp for at-risk youth in North Carolina.

At Phillips Academy in Bronzeville, she started as the Junior counselor and then moved into the post-secondary arena where she found her passion. She believes in holistically working with students and prides herself in her ability to match students with resources, especially scholarship opportunities and enrichment programs. In her years as a postsecondary counselor, she drastically increased the amount of scholarships (from 500,000 in 2015 to over 15 million in 2019) earned by the graduating classes and received a Data Impact award from Chicago Public Schools. She was also a final nominee for College and Career Counselor of the year in 2018 and has presented at multiple CPS School Counselor professional development events.

Kate is a lifelong learner and is excited to join the My College Planning Team to help families find the best holistic college fit for their child and the most scholarship money possible to offset their educational costs. Kate also has a knack for matching families to the resources they need, including alternate options like trade or gap year programs. Outside of work, she enjoys running, yoga, event planning and spending time with her 2 young children.

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