College acceptance letters received, check.
FAFSA completed and award letter received, check.
Decision made about where you’re going next year … ughhhhhh, definitely not checked.
If you’re doing the second semester shuffle, there’s a good chance you’re soaking up the remaining days of high school while trying to sort through all of the items on your college “to do” list.
The good news: you’re on the home-stretch. National College Decision Day is on May 1, 2018, and you (along with a gazillion other students) will be making the final decision about where you want to go to college next year.
Here are a few things you should know about the May 1 deadline.
What is National College Decision Day?
May 1 has been designated as National College Decision Day. This date represents the deadline to submit your acceptance and make a deposit to attend the four-year college or university of your choice.
That means you have some major thinking to do if you haven’t already honed in on where you want to go to school next year.
Because unlike the deadline to turn in that final paper for your senior English class, this date is not flexible.
What do I have to do for National College Decision Day?
Once you’ve decided on where you want to spend the next four to five years of your life, you need to inform your college of choice that you will be attending in the fall. This often requires sending them your acceptance letter along with a deposit.
But before you drop this in the mail, make sure you have all of the required documents, which could also include important financial aid information. Contact the admissions and financial aid office to double-check that you have all of the items needed to secure your spot.
If you’ve been accepted to more than one college, it’s also a good idea to let the other schools know that you will not be accepting their offer. This frees up space for students on the waitlist at those universities.
What do my parents need to do for National College Decision Day?
That’s a good question and one that comes with a variety of answers. If your parents are helping you pay for college, they may be writing the check for the deposit due on May 1.
Make sure to remind them of this deadline and get the money well in advance. You should also scope out all paperwork for places that may require a parent's signature.
If you have applied for financial aid, this is a good time to check the status of your award. There may be additional paperwork or documents that your parents need to fill out and submit in order for your financial aid award to be processed.
As National College Decision Day nears, conversations with your parents are likely to increase. Use this as an opportunity to discuss money, financial aid, and other ways to pay for college.
Just because you’ve accepted your financial aid award, doesn’t mean all of your financial needs have been taken care of. If you still have gaps you need to fill, talk with your parents about additional loans or ways to cover expenses before you head off to school.
What happens if I miss the deadline?
First off, it’s important to note that not all colleges adhere to this deadline. Community and technical colleges, as well as some universities with a roaming deadline, will allow you to submit acceptance notices and deposits after the May 1 date.
Now, if you’ve applied to and been accepted to schools that stick to this deadline, you could have a problem. Since the May 1 deadline is widely known, many colleges do not accept late decisions. Some universities may give an extension beyond this date, but don’t bet on it.
If you’ve missed the May 1 deadline, you need to contact the admissions office immediately and ask to speak with an admissions counselor.
Make sure you tell them about any extenuating circumstances that may have prevented you from getting your paperwork and deposit in on time.
It’s also a good idea to follow-up with an email to the person you spoke with that recaps the conversation and thanks them for their time.
This is an exciting time! Be sure to keep an eye on your calendar so you can start your college career off on the right foot.