- Celebrate! You did it! The hard work was worth it!
- If you received a personal email or call letting you know of your acceptance, you should definitely return the call or email with enthusiasm and gratitude. But don’t immediately accept unless you absolutely don’t need to negotiate for additional financial aid.
- Get clear on what your response deadline is and deposit amount. Put this in your calendar with an alarm reminder so you don’t miss the deadline.
- Get your financial aid offer and make sure you understand everything included in your package. Make sure you understand the difference between grants, merit-based fellowships, subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans, and any other components of your financial aid package.
- If you’ve been offered a more generous financial aid package at one school than at your first choice school, you should consider writing a financial aid appeal letter (more on how to do this in a future blog post).
- Send a message thanking everyone who helped you throughout your admissions process—including recommenders, colleagues, significant others, friends, and family.
If you’ve been waitlisted:
- Take time to be disappointed, confused, angry, sad, all the feelings. Give yourself a full day of pouting if you need to. Punch a teddy bear. Whatever you need to do that doesn’t involve hurting yourself or other people.
- Once you are more calm, reply to the email letting them know that you’d like to accept a place on the waitlist (only if you haven’t already committed to another school). I don’t recommend accepting a place on the waitlist if you know you’re going to commit to a school where you were already outright accepted.
- Take advantage of any opportunity they offer for getting feedback on your application.
- Get clear on their policy regarding submitting additional materials. Some schools will allow you to provide updates such as promotions, new test scores, or sometimes even additional essays. However, many schools will say that they only want to evaluate your application based on the material you originally submitted.
If you’ve been rejected:
- See first bullet point under “If you’ve been waitlisted.”
- Consider whether you want to reapply, and if so, whether you want to reapply the immediate following season or wait a few years.
- If you’ve been accepted elsewhere, consider whether you really want to attend that school.
- If you want to reapply, reach out to a few admissions consultants that you like to see if they will evaluate your dinged applications to give you some feedback and a plan for reapplying.
The main thing to remember is that when you receive notification of whether you’ve been accepted, waitlisted, or rejected, you don’t need to rush and make any commitments. Take time to feel your feelings, evaluate your options, and create a plan for moving forward.