Why You Should Contact The Schools You’re NOT Attending

If you have applied to multiple colleges, there is a dilemma you are going to face at the end of the admissions cycle as your acceptance letters come in. You’re faced with declining a college acceptance or two. Should you contact the schools you are not attending and inform them about your decision?

It’s not required to tell a college you’re not attending. But aside from being the courteous thing to do, informing the school also frees up the financial aid that has been reserved for you so that another freshman can benefit from it.

So, what steps do you need to take in order to notify the schools you are declining? We’ll cover everything you need to know about declining your offers, what you should include in your letter, and more tips below.

Students wearing graduation robes and caps standing together.

How To Decline a College Acceptance

So how exactly can you tell a college you won’t be attending? Well, it depends on the school in question. Many will include the steps you need to take with the acceptance letter so you should refer to that paperwork first. You can also look online for instructions or reach out to the admissions department with questions if there is any confusion.

Some colleges will have a quick form for you to complete if you’re declining their offer. However, it may still be a good idea to send a letter to the college or admissions department thanking them for their offer and politely declining. If you decide at a later date you chose the wrong college and try to transfer to this particular school in the future, it will reflect well on you, too!

While May 1st is National Decision Day, it doesn’t mean you have to wait until that date to notify a school you won’t be attending. In fact, the sooner the better. This will help open up spots for those waiting students. You shouldn’t rush the decision though, either. If you’re not quite sure and still weighing your options, take your time. Only send in your intention to attend or not to attend a college when you’re absolutely sure – though almost all colleges do require your decision by that May 1st deadline.

What Should You Say to the College?

If you decide to write a thank you letter or email, these tips will help you know what to include.

1. Keep it Simple

A letter informing the college of your intention to not attend shouldn’t be reminiscent of your college application essay. It should be clear, to the point, and succinct.

2. Be Polite

Your notification letter or email should say that you’re thankful for their consideration and offer, but that you are declining their offer. It should never be rude, condescending, or insulting. Even if you personally had a bad experience with the college that affected your decision. Politely declining a college acceptance is good practice and keeps the door open in case you want to transfer later on.

3. Only Include Details You’re Comfortable Including

These letters can be a simple two line message. Or, you may also want to include additional information, such as why you didn’t attend, the college you’re deciding to attend, or other details. However, you are by no means obligated to include further information.

4. Contact the Right Person or Department

You definitely want to make sure your letter gets to the right person! If you talked personally to someone at the admissions department, for instance, you may want to send a more personalized letter to them. You could even give them a call if you’ve been talking over the phone. Generally, though, directing it to the admissions department is a safe bet.

You are not required to let a college you won’t be attending for the fall semester. But formally declining a college acceptance is still highly suggested! It reflects well on your character and shows you are polite, gracious, and considerate of others’ time and efforts. Plus, you could very well open up a spot to a student who has their heart set on attending that college!

Once you make your decision to attend a college, you usually have to submit your deposit with your acceptance of their offer in order to hold your spot. College is expensive though. If you’re worrying about being able to afford tuition, books, fees, and more in order to attend, scholarships can help. Use College Raptor’s Scholarship Search tool to get started and find awards you qualify for without the hassle.