The Day is Upon Us
It’s almost here; the letters will arrive soon. Admission committees have made their decisions based on the best information available and they have done their best to match each school and student. Remember, no school wants a poor match between student and school.

Be prepared for a series of mixed emotions. If you’re like most students, you will gain admission to some schools and not others. This is the way that it should work. Every student is not a good fit with every school and vice versa. Take a deep breath. If a decision doesn’t result exactly as you had hoped, don’t despair.

Focus on and respond to the good that has resulted from the process. Chances are that you have been accepted to the schools in which you have the best opportunity to do well.

Call each school to which you were accepted and let them know that you will be making your decision during the proscribed time frame and that you will communicate your decisions to them as soon as you reach conclusions.

Wait-List or Deferral
Two other situations can also result from the admission process: applicants can be assigned to a school’s wait list or a final decision on the applicant can be deferred.

Being put on the waiting list means that the school believes you fit within their student body, but you were not as strong as other applicants. The school can extend admission to you on a space available basis.

Deferred admission proves a different beast. In this case, the admission committee has not been able to reach a conclusion despite their best efforts. The school is likely to want more information. The deferring school will ask you to submit more information- grades, recommendations, etc. - to bolster your application.

In either of these situations, the decision is yours. Student and family must choose whether to continue to pursue admission to schools that wait-list or defer your admission. Pursuit of a wait-list or deferral situation requires extra effort and a strong belief that you want to attend a particular school.

You cannot bank on admittance to a wait list or deferral situation. You must still choose a school from among those to which you have been accepted and you must still evaluate and choose a school as well as fulfilling any extra requests made by schools that have wait listed or deferred your admission.

The Post-Acceptance Notification Plan
Once you receive the decisions, begin to formulate a plan based on the opportunities before you. Visit the schools to which you have been accepted. Many schools offer accepted student visitation weekends or you can schedule a visit on your own.

Having established that you need to visit schools, it’s time to begin developing a framework to help you think about your choices and to lead you to a final choice about where you will attend school.

When you visit schools, I recommended in an earlier article that you take notes and write your thoughts about your visit. We now need to turn our attention to how you will look at and evaluate schools that have accepted you. Even if you cannot return for second visits to schools, commit your thoughts to pen and paper.

Begin your final analysis; think about the following parts of each school:

Academic Support?
Dormitory Life?
Fine Arts?
Financial aid award?
Location- close to a city, rural, rural with limited city access?
Performing Arts?
Single Sex, Coeducational?
What do students say about their school and how do they say it?
What do students say about their faculty and teachers?
How is the food?
Is everyone busy?
Are the students friendly and helpful?
Do you like the traditions?

From your notes and thoughts on each school, make a list of pros and cons for each. Know which parts of a school mean the most for you- academics, arts, athletics, location, etc. Each school will have inherent appeals and dislikes by each student. In most cases, after visiting, writing your thoughts, and weighing the various strengths of each school in relation to your educational pursuits, the best school fit usually rises to the top of the list.

This is just an initial framework. Tweak, modify, and change it, to fit your own approach. The goal is the same for everyone- the best decision possible.

Call and inform the schools of your decision. Complete any initial paperwork for the school that you choose to attend. Remember to also call the schools that you will not be attending so they can offer the space to students who might be waiting.

Most importantly, act responsibly. Schools will treat you fairly and with respect. Do the same with them.