Breaking the news to colleges

by Andrea Hendrickson on April 25, 2014

Editor’s note: Our colleague and one-time Portland-based regional admissions guru, Andrea Hendrickson, penned this blog last year. She has since joined the admission staff of another college closer to her home that shall remain nameless (but rhymes with “Read”). However, because she loves her alma mater so much (yep, she’s a Lawrentian), she has enthusiastically endorsed our reposting this year. (IHRTLUHC)

As if the college decision process isn’t hard enough already…

You’ve spent at least a year compiling and editing a list of colleges, visiting, filling out applications, writing essays, waiting (ugh, the WAITING), filing out the FAFSA, waiting again, and now you have all (or mostly all) of your admit letters and financial aid awards in front of you. You’re weighing the pros and cons, or just out-right submitting a deposit to the one you know you’ve been waiting to enroll at since you visited.

All that’s left is to tell the other colleges who accepted you what you’ve decided. And it’s harder than you thought it would be.

Why? Not because colleges make it difficult to respond. You are getting a near-constant stream of emails, letters, calls, and postcards asking about your plans: check this box, respond to this email, unsubscribe (and we’ll get the picture)…

It’s hard because while we—the colleges, and the admissions counselors—were getting to know you, you got to know us. You found out that admissions counselors are people—exceedingly cool people. Maybe we’ve met half-a-dozen times over the last year. Maybe we have things in common (like obsessions with The Walking Dead or Macklemore). When someone spends time with you, connects with you, advocates for you in the admissions committee, it’s hard not to feel bad saying, “thanks, but no thanks.”

Don’t feel bad. Not even a little.

Whether or not you choose our institution, you are going to end up where you are meant to be. That’s all we want for you. That’s all any admissions counselor at any institution really wants for you. So don’t be afraid to tell us your plans. Fill out that card, respond to that email, reach out.

Our huge and heartfelt congratulations (plus a happy dance) on your college decision!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie Bey May 15, 2013 at 11:03 am

With the average student applying to more schools than ever before, it is understandable how the ‘notification’ may seem daunting at times I’ve often found myself counseling prospective students early – reminding them they will only be attending one college and need to inform all others of their decision not to attend. Thanks for a good insight into the student perspective as well as how we, the college admission professional, truly feel and believe.

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Wanda Brown-McGreck April 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm

As a parent of a senior I want to say thank you for writing this article. It was hard for my daughter to let the other colleges know that she did not pick them. Seeing your article will make her feel better and it will let her know that colleges are not upset that they were not picked. It will help her understand how important it is to pick what is right for her and that that all colleges want is for the student to be happy and successful wherever they may end up going. So Thank you from a very grateful mother.

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Matthew Kirby April 25, 2013 at 7:25 am

Thank you so much for taking the time to craft this message – both timely and positive! I can assure you that many of us (high school counselors) are trying to deliver this same point to seniors in order to support our college friends “on the other side of the desk”. My only question is this – can we please use your blog as a useful handout with our students?

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Ken Anselment April 25, 2013 at 8:45 am

By all means, Matthew. Please share it with your students.

Carin Smith April 25, 2013 at 4:43 am

And just think, it used to be that you actually had to pick up that phone and call!! Nicely said, my west coast colleague!!

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Susie Watts April 24, 2013 at 9:46 pm

As a private college counselor, I have seen students really struggle with the issue of informing colleges that they will not be attending. I usually try to assure them that by this small courtesy, they are opening the door for another student to attend, and this in itself should make them feel good. I completely agree that students need to choose the school that is the best one for them and this is often a difficult decision.

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Katie DePonty April 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I love this post! From a former admission counselor who only wanted students to find the school they were meant to attend and from a current college counselor who hopes for the same thing. Thank you for this great post Andrea. You’re a class act!

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Maria Furtado April 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Well said! Don’t leave us hangin’! We’ve invested time and energy, late nights and early mornings… please let us know so we can wish you well and be happy for you. Nice job, Andrea.

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Ken Anselment April 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Is it weird that I work here and love this post? Well done and well said, Andrea.

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