Some high school seniors get all their college admissions and financial aid applications completed on time. Some pinned all their hopes on one college with an early decision application, while others hedged their bets with an early action application. The hope was that there would be a quick acceptance by the end of the year, and the student could relax and enjoy the holidays, without college unknowns hanging over their head.
Unfortunately, the chips don’t always fall as we would like. For many students, the end of the year brings with it the crushing defeat of a rejection letter from a favored college. While it can be disappointing, an early application rejection does not have to be the end of the college hunt. Give students some time to get over the let-down, but don’t spend too much time trying to find a reason for the rejection. Instead, help them get back on the path to college acceptance for the fall semester of 2023. Here are some steps to take:
- Ascertain whether it is a rejection or a deferral: A rejection means that the college is not interested in your student for some reason, but a deferral means they might be interested. They have just decided to put off making a final decision as they assess the full range of admissions applications received. Your student might still be offered an acceptance as part of the regular admissions process, but don’t rely solely on this possibility. Read the letter carefully to determine if there are any steps you need to take to stay in their application pool.
- Look at an ED II Option: Your student might have two colleges at the top of the list, but could only apply to one for an early decision. If that application is rejected, it might be possible to apply to a college with an ED II option. The deadlines are later, but there is the same commitment to attend if accepted.
- Reconsider your college list: Just in case your deferred student still does not get accepted, they should also take steps to apply to other colleges by their regular admissions deadlines. Make sure to include at least one good match in this process. At this point, it is not a good idea to aim higher than a college which rejected your student because they will most likely be rejected there as well. Reassess the admissions application to make sure it presents the strongest picture of your student. Deciding to attend one college does not have to be a lifetime commitment. Your student could attend another college for a year or two, and then reapply to the one which rejected them earlier.
- Reconfirm financial aid requirements: Your family should already have submitted a FAFSA, but make sure any new colleges are added to the list. Read the financial aid pages on any new colleges’ websites to determine whether you also have to complete a CSS Profile or other financial aid requirements.
- Think about a different approach: Maybe your student did not make a favorable impression during the first go-round at getting into college, but that doesn’t mean college has to be off the table entirely. It might be worthwhile spending some time in a junior college or community college to work on academic skills before reapplying to a four-year college.
If your student gets accepted with an early decision application, follow the required steps carefully to complete enrollment. If your student was accepted with an early action application, but you are not satisfied with the financial aid package, you can still apply to other colleges.
CFAA guides families through the financial aid process, from completing the FAFSA and completing the CSS Profile to reviewing the SAR, responding to requests for verification, comparing financial aid offers and understanding student loan options. Schedule a CFAA new client free strategy session or a 15 Minute Power Chat to learn more about finding ways to pay for college. To get the latest financial aid information and college application to-do lists, look for my bi-weekly JustAskJodi emails and check out my monthly CFAA e-newsletter.