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If you are like many seniors, you are anxiously, eagerly awaiting admission decisions from your Regular Decision colleges. While there is nothing you need to do as you wait for the news, it can help to understand how colleges make their final decisions, when you’re likely to get your news, and how to prepare for next steps.

How do colleges make final decisions?

Each college has a different process for reading and evaluating applications and making admission decisions. At many schools, the process includes one or two initial reads, a committee discussion to render an initial decision, and a final shaping of the incoming class by university leadership. This means that, in the weeks leading up to when a university announces its admission decisions, the enrollment leaders are typically ensuring that the students they plan to offer admission will align with the university’s institutional priorities. For example, if a university seeks to enroll incoming students from all 50 states, they will check to ensure that they have planned offers of admission to students from diverse geographic backgrounds. Thus, there is often some last-minute shifting of decisions before applicants are notified.

So when will I get my decision?

Again, this depends on each school, but the majority of universities notify students in the last two weeks of March.  Some colleges have already announced specific dates and times by which they plan to notify applicants–for example, Johns Hopkins expects to do so on March 22. To be sure that you know when you will be hearing from your colleges, check your email frequently!  This is not only the best way to make sure that your application is complete, but it is also the way that you will know when your admission decision will be available in your portal. Most colleges will give you at least a few days’ notice of when decisions will be available.

And in the meantime, what should I do?

Waiting can be really challenging! This is especially true when you are waiting for information that will have a major impact on your future. These weeks before decisions come out can be a great time to re-evaluate your priorities, and also to practice perspective. 

  • Re-Evaluate Priorities: Once you receive your decisions, you will have several weeks to decide which school you will attend. And that can be a tough (but fun!) decision! Deciding before you get the decisions what the most important criteria are for you can help you make the most thoughtful decision with the options you have. Perhaps over the last few months you’ve determined that going to college in a totally new environment is one of the things that’s most important to you–this gives you clarity about which offers of admission will be most attractive to you in the coming weeks.
  • Practice Perspective:  For most applicants, getting notified of admission decisions elicits a mix of emotions–some happiness, some disappointment, perhaps some frustration, too. Remember in the weeks leading up to the decisions that you are valuable and talented and have a bright future ahead–regardless of whether you are admitted to your first-choice school. As much as you can, remember the things you’ve done that make you proud, and that college admission decisions don’t determine your worth or your ability to reach your goals.  They just determine where you’ll spend the next four years.  You’ve got this, and we’re excited for you!
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