Acceptance Letter to Move-In Day: What Happens In Between?

The college application process can seem like it takes forever. Everyone hangs around to give you advice and ask questions. Relatives get nosy and tensions can mount between friends. There’s a steady build-up of pressure from the time senior starts until you’ve completed all your applications. After you’ve finished them all, you’re left to play the waiting game for your acceptance letter.

But what happens after you finished and submitted your applications? Well, after a few weeks, you start getting responses back. Then you begin the next whirlwind stage of senior year, graduating and becoming a college student.

If you’re in need of a to-do list for the time between receiving your acceptance letter(s) and move-in day, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered!

White envelopes, stamps, and a pen, with text overlayed that says "acceptance letter to move-in day: what happens in between?"

Remember: Every School is Different

This checklist is more of a rough guide! Colleges have their own schedules that need to be followed by students interested in attending. For example, some schools may let you select a dorm room in March, but others will require you to wait until orientation in July. 

Always read the literature that comes with your acceptance letter and be sure to check out the incoming student’s page on the school’s website. This should contain much of the information you need to have a successful entry into college life! If you have any questions or concerns about what you should be doing, and when, be sure to reach out to the admissions department as soon as possible.

December – March

YOU GOT IN!!! Congrats. When you receive your acceptance letters will entirely depend on when and how you applied. If you applied under Early Action or Early Decision, you should hear back by Mid-December. But if you applied under Regular Decision, you might not hear back until the end of March!

Either way, though, it’s time to celebrate! You’ll also want to complete these tasks in the coming weeks: 

  • Complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if you haven’t already.
  • Make sure the schools you’ve been accepted to have your FAFSA information.
  • Continue searching and applying for scholarships.
  • Compare financial aid award letters that came with your acceptance letters.
  • Compare colleges including the pros and cons of each to help you reach a decision on which to attend.
  • Visit college campuses to help you make your final decision.

April – May

  • Accept admission to the college you’ve chosen by May 1st.
  • Let the other schools know you won’t be attending.
  • Sign up for an orientation date (the earlier the better!).
  • Complete other required tasks including applications for housing, classes, and work-study programs if eligible.
  • Pay the deposit fee to reserve your spot at the school by May 1st.
  • Continue applying for scholarships.
  • Go to prom!
  • Take any finals you have for your senior year of high school – and make sure to study. Colleges can rescind acceptance letters if you get a really bad case of senioritis!
  • Graduate from high school and celebrate.
  • Consider getting a summer job.

June – August

  • Attend orientation – don’t skip it!
  • Make sure you have your housing, placement tests, and class schedule completed.
  • Select a roommate (optional).
  • Create a packing list for your dorm room.
  • Submit your senior year transcripts to the college.
  • Celebrate the end of summer with family and friends.
  • Talk to your future roommate about decor and who is bringing what.
  • Write down the move-in and class start dates and be ready to go!
  • Get your books and supplies ready.
  • Continue applying for scholarships. (Notice a theme? There are scholarships that you can apply for almost year-round, so ALWAYS is a good time to search).

August- Septemeber

  • Have an end-of-summer party with your friends and/or family.
  • Start packing–by this time you should know where you’re living and be talking to your roommate(s).
  • Decide who is bringing what (e.g., microwave, rug, lamp, mini-fridge, etc.).
  • Have any online purchases (e.g., books, bedding, dorm decor, etc.) sent directly to your new address–this will save your space in your car and be less to carry later.
  • Don’t shop in the bookstore! Use websites like Amazon and Chegg to buy your textbooks, it will save you a ton of money, believe me.
  • Move into your college dorm room!
  • Get your bearings around the college – explore a bit so you know what is where including your upcoming classes.
  • Unpack and decorate.
  • Make friends.
  • Attend any orientation or first-year events in the first few days of college.
  • Attend your first classes!
  • Get set up for work-study if eligible.

Keeping Track Of Your To-Do List

There’s no doubt about it – you have a lot to get done in the coming months. Use these tips to get on track for a successful end of senior year and start off your college experience!

  • Use a calendar and/or planner
  • Write down any important dates for college, financial aid, scholarships, or high school
  • Cross things off as you complete them
  • Keep a running list of things you need to research or look into so you don’t forget – a whiteboard can help here.
  • Reach out to the admissions department or your high school counselor with any questions or concerns as soon as they pop up

Getting ready for college can certainly feel daunting and overwhelming, but having a plan of action – like the checklist above – can help ensure you’re fully prepared for anything that comes your way! What will you be tackling this week?

When you’re getting ready to choose a college, you absolutely need to compare your financial aid offer letters. But they’re confusing and there’s no straightforward format for you to follow. Well, we have you covered. Our Financial Aid Offer Comparison Tool cuts through the confusion so you can make a more informed decision – and it’s completely free!