THE BLOG
03/31/2016 03:04 pm ET Updated Apr 01, 2017

The Truth About Admission Decisions: What to Do Next

It's the time of year that high school seniors have been waiting months for -- college admission decisions are out! For some, the news is good. For others -- no so much. No matter what decision you get from your top-choice college, there are a couple of things you need to do next.

First, Remember That Your Admission Decisions Don't Define You
Your admission decisions are not a reflection on who you are as a person. It's easy to take a rejection personally, or to feel validated with an acceptance. This is the first step in a long journey and it's important to keep things in perspective. Your worth doesn't hinge on where you did or didn't get in. Hopefully you applied to a balanced list of best-fit colleges, any of which you'd be happy to attend. Even if you didn't make it into your top-choice, or even second or third choice, you still have options. Focus on the end goal of getting a rewarding education -- not the name of the institution.

Take Time to Absorb the News
Whether it's an acceptance, rejection, waitlist, or an alternative decision like deferred admission for spring, there are bound to be a lot of feelings associated with your admission decisions. Take some time to absorb the news. Refrain from posting on social media or calling your friends; just take some time to yourself to work through what you may be feeling.

If You're Accepted
Congratulations! This is exciting news and you should celebrate it as such. If you were accepted to your top-choice college, make sure to send in your deposit by the May 1 deadline. If you're weighing multiple acceptances, take some time to look over your options and choose the college that's best for you. Many colleges offer an admitted student weekend to allow accepted applicants the chance to visit again before making a decision on whether or not to attend. Take advantage of those if you're struggling to decide where to go. Also, if you post on social media about your acceptance, remember to be considerate of others. Don't boast or post anyone else's decision news. Also make sure that if you choose to post photos of emails or letters not to include any personal information like your address or phone number.

If You're Rejected
Rejection is never easy. Especially if it's from a college you really wanted to attend. Take some time to come to terms with the decision and work through the emotions that come with a rejection. Sometimes people think they can influence the admission office to change their mind, but don't bother with trying to challenge the decision. You'll waste time and effort and end up back where you started. Instead, focus on where you did get accepted. It's normal to feel disappointed, but don't dwell. Sometimes students' feelings about a school can change after a rejection. Maybe a college that wasn't a priority at first is now a top-choice. Maybe rejection helped you realize you didn't want to go to that college after all. Turn your attention to the colleges that do want you to join their community and get excited about all of the possibilities ahead of you!

If You're Waitlisted
So you weren't accepted, but you weren't rejected, either. Instead, you're in the admissions limbo known as the waitlist. Getting waitlisted at your top-choice college is difficult to come to terms with, as you're left holding out hope for an outcome that may not happen. If you're waitlisted, first decide if that college is still a top-choice. If so, let them know that you intend to remain on the waitlist. If not, politely decline and turn your attention to your other college options. If you remain on the waitlist, be sure to still send in your deposit to your second-choice school so you have a place to go in the fall should you not be admitted off the waitlist at your first-choice college. If appropriate, write a letter to the college reaffirming your commitment to the institution by letting them know you intend to enroll if admitted. Also update them on what you've been up to since you submitted your application, including any recent accomplishments, activities, and more.

Whether you're accepted, rejected, or waitlisted this college admission season it's important to remember that college isn't about the name of the institution -- it's about what you make of the experience. Focus on the end-goal of getting a great education and the rest will fall into place. Congratulations to the class of 2020!