You’ve Been Accepted! Next Steps After Getting Into College

Last updated Feb 15, 2024 
| Elizabeth Sweger

With just a click of a button, Alex saw what she had been working and waiting for since she started high school. She had just been accepted to college! In the weeks that followed, she received a few other acceptance offers and was waitlisted and rejected twice. Financial aid offers were also in the works. Alex should have been thrilled—and she was—but she was also getting stressed. What started as exciting quickly became overwhelming because so much time and energy had been spent building up to this moment that Alex hadn’t really thought about what she would do after she was accepted somewhere. Although you should definitely take time to celebrate, you should also focus on figuring out your next steps. So, if you’re a senior like Alex, and have deadlines and decisions piling up, read on for a guide through the post-acceptance process.

Wait and Weigh Your Options

Patience, knowledge, and judgment are essential to navigating the period between submitting your college applications and receiving your acceptance offers. The first step is to wait for offers to arrive and to not make any decisions until you have received responses from every college to which you applied. Read each offer carefully, and double check that the information is accurate. Stay organized as offers come in by saving any papers in a safe place (e.g. folder, accordion folder) and note any deadlines on a calendar. Waitlisted? You will first need to accept the college’s offer to be added to their waitlist; reach out to confirm your interest and share records of recent accomplishments and recommendations. Ensure you are following all directions carefully: some schools will require an update through their portal while others may accept a letter through the admissions counselor. Read through everything you receive, and research how to best demonstrate that you are still interested.

So, let’s say you finally received responses to all of your applications and you have been accepted to more than one college (yay!). Now you are ready to review the offers and do some additional research before reaching your final decision. Revisit any documents or websites you were using to help choose where to apply so you can refresh your memory about what you liked and didn’t like about each school that accepted you. For more information, ask close friends and family for their advice and, if possible, consider revisiting one or more of the campuses. Then, use all of this information to make pro/con lists. Ultimately, what matters is that you choose a college where you believe you will be safe, satisfied, and successful. It also matters that you are able to pay for it, which is why you will need to factor financial aid into your decision-making as well.

Figure Out Funding

When you filled out your college applications, you also likely filled out a FAFSA application and other applications for needs based and merit based aid, including loans, grants, and scholarships. Every school’s financial aid package will be different and could offer different types of loans and additional options like work-study. Examine a college’s financial aid offers carefully to understand their terms and conditions, factor in other sources of funding you might have (e.g. scholarships), then evaluate how the final price tag of each college affects their individual appeal. To help you, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has this handy tool. Also, do not be afraid to ask for more financial assistance. Contact the financial aid office with your parents to discuss if there are any other additional opportunities to receive more money. Utilize scholarships/aid you received from other schools to negotiate for more funds. In short, as you weigh which college to attend, consider the cost, so when you make your final pick you know it’s one you like and one you can pay for. 

Commit and Connect to Your Chosen College

Having reviewed the offers you have received for admission and aid as well as having completed additional research and reflection, you should have enough information to make a choice that fits you, your dreams, and your budget. To make it official, follow any specific instructions provided in letters or emails you have received. You will usually need to log onto the student portals of each college to which you applied, for example. Formally decline offers from colleges you’ve decided not to attend and accept both the admission and financial aid offers of the college you do want to attend. Aim to do this by May 1 (National College Decision Day), which is the day most college decisions are due. 

Once you’ve committed, you have a new set of tasks to do that will enable you to start school with ease. To keep track of them, create calendars with important dates and checklists with important tasks.

  • Provide enrollment deposit or acceptance fee.
  • Finalize financial aid by completing any remaining forms.
  • Send your final high school transcript.
  • Apply for housing and choose a meal plan by completing any required forms.
  • Complete roommate search surveys and/or find a roommate via social media groups.
  • Take placement tests.
  • Attend any campus tours or orientations.
  • Work with an advisor to build a class schedule for the fall.
  • Get a student ID.
  • Set up your student account, including an email address.
  • Fulfill any medical requirements (e.g. physicals and immunizations) and send records.
  • Work out logistics, such as transportation, parking, and purchase supplies.

All of the above represents most of the typical tasks you will need to do to prepare for your first year of college. It isn’t complete, however, because every person and every college is unique. Make sure that you follow through on what you need to do for your specific set of needs.

Stop Senioritis

After the joy of college acceptance and the effort put into making your final choice, it would be a shame to slide into complacency at school. Not only do students whose grades slip significantly occasionally get their acceptance and aid offers revoked, especially if they were admitted based on maintaining a specified GPA requirement, but they develop bad habits that can be hard to break as they move onto the challenges of college. Remember, in many cases you will need to send your final transcript to your college of choice, so do your best to make sure that the grades they see are ones that they will approve of and that you can be proud of.

Next Steps

Getting accepted to college is a huge achievement! However, it comes with a new set of responsibilities. As you consider your aid and admissions offers, remember to keep up with your school work and paperwork so you smoothly transition from the end of your senior year of high school to the start of your freshman year of college. Also, reach out to A+ Test Prep and Tutoring for help maintaining or raising your senior year grades or for help developing valuable executive function skills, such as time management and organization, that will help you manage college classes and college life more effectively. We can set you up for success as you begin this next stage of your college journey.

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, contact us here.


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