May 1 is traditionally National College Decision Day. Typically, schools require that students choose where they will enroll by submitting an enrollment deposit on or before May 1. That makes April – decision time. Of course, this year things are feeling very different. A large number of colleges have already extended their enrollment deadlines to June 1. Making a college choice right now may feel difficult (or easy depending on where you were in the process). Regardless, you might be asking yourself some of the questions below.
Can I ask for an extension?
Of course! It doesn’t hurt to ask. Although the college may still have a May 1 deadline, many have said they will make extensions on a case by case basis. You could be waiting on a financial aid appeal, or for more information from one college that would affect your decision at another. Make your case requesting an enrollment deadline extension in writing to the admissions office.
What if I’m on the waitlist?
Unfortunately for many students, it seems like colleges are sending lots of waitlist offers this year. Forgive the sports metaphor – colleges want a deep bench in case their freshman enrollment numbers don’t play out the way they typically do. Waitlist updates could continue throughout the summer. As with every year, it’s best to send an enrollment deposit to a second-choice college that has admitted you even if you are on the waitlist at your first-choice. There is no way to know if you will get accepted from the waitlist.
Maybe I should do a gap year?
It’s possible – if you truly feel that’s in your best interest and you have a plan. However, this may not be the best choice if you weren’t already considering this before the pandemic. Most colleges defer enrollment for only a small number of students and they usually consider those requests on a case by case basis. You should have solid answers for these three questions: 1) why do you want to take a gap year; 2) how will you spend your time; and 3) what will you learn from your experience?
My school is not open, I haven’t talked to my counselor, what about my final transcript?
Colleges understand that these are exceptional circumstances. No one in education has ever experienced a disruption of quite this level. Although colleges require your final high school transcript as a proof of graduation (and most also review your final high school grades), allowances will surely be made to get those transcripts submitted.
We are doing online learning – they say our grades will be pass/fail.
Again, colleges are going to be making way for a lot of exceptions. Don’t panic about final grades not looking like they normally would. High schools across the country are doing their best in this unprecedented situation. Colleges understand that. Whether it’s sending unofficial documents via email, or extending the deadline, or waiving final grade requirements – submitting final enrollment paperwork may look differently this year. The same will likely be true for orientation, housing contracts, and registration.
The best advice for now is to stay informed. Visit the admitted student websites (often) for the colleges you are considering, attend any online enrollment events, and read all of the email communication you receive from colleges! Be in touch with your advisor (and your high school counselor) as they may have updates about changes to deadlines or policies. And finally, NACAC is providing this online resource to students and families as a centralized place where you can check for updates on all your schools.