What to do After College Acceptance: 8 Important Steps

Getting a college acceptance letter is very exciting!

Pixabay user Anne-Onyme

You’ve done it! That much-hoped-for college acceptance letter is finally in your hands. Congratulations—you’ve put in a lot of hard work and dedication into the college admissions process. Take a moment to reflect on your accomplishments and give yourself the recognition you deserve for reaching this milestone.

After you’ve celebrated this long-awaited achievement, it’s time to shift gears and start preparing for decision day and then life as a college student. This is an exciting time full of changes and new experiences ahead, but there’s still a lot to be done before starting classes. Here are steps to help you take early action after getting accepted into college.

1. Compare Offer Letters

If you have received an acceptance letter from your first-choice college, the decision will probably be easy. If not, you may need to spend some time determining which one—out of all the acceptance letters you received—you’ll choose.

Start by carefully reviewing each financial aid offer letter and noting the details of the financial aid package. Pay attention to the total cost of attendance for each school, taking into account tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses. Create a list or chart to compare the financial aid offers from each college.


2. Compare Other Aspects

Once you have all, or at least most, of your acceptance or rejection letters from your college options, it’s time to compare which college best matches your goals and interests. Like when you first researched colleges, you’ll want to make a list of pros and cons for each choice. Visit each college’s website and if possible, revisit the campus to get a feel for them again.

Don’t forget to review more than just the cost. Here are some things to consider during this decision-making process:

  • Financial aid offers
  • Size and location of the campus
  • Student life: clubs, sports teams, extracurricular activities, and other activities
  • Field of study
  • Curriculum and course options
  • Class sizes
  • Living arrangements
  • Study abroad and research opportunities
  • Campus facilities: libraries, recreational center, technology resources
Green earnest logo.

Jump into next semester with a no-fee, flexible private student loan

Variable rates from 5.62% - 16.85% APR with auto-debit

Learn More

3. Visit College Campuses

Part of your comparing process should also involve visiting college campuses if you have the time – especially if you haven’t visited it before. You don’t want to go to your “dream school” for the first time in August and find out it is definitely not the college for you. Online tours and videos are great, but colleges usually only show you what they want you to see. Visiting in person will definitely give you a better sense of what the school offers its students.

4. Notify the College That You’ve Accepted Their Offer

After carefully evaluating all your options and considering the merits of each college, it’s time to reach your final decision. Trust your instincts and select the college that resonates with you academically, financially, socially, and personally.

Make your decision by the May 1 decision day and take action! Send in your acceptance letter to confirm your place in the incoming class, expressing your enthusiasm for becoming part of the university community. Let them know you’re eager to embark on this new chapter of your academic journey.

READ MORE >> What to Do After You’ve Made Your Final College Decision

5. Connect With the School

From the day you confirm your acceptance, you are a part of the school. Following and engaging with your college on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and any other social media site they have allows you to get updates on ongoing academic and athletic activities and also participate in ongoing discussions. You can give your opinions, hear other students’ opinions and even connect with other freshmen.

Apart from connecting online, consider visiting in the months leading up to move-in day. You can get a better feel for the campus, tour housing, and even connect with future professors or advisors. By the time the semester starts, you will already feel like part of the community.

6. Make Solid Plans Regarding Your Finances

Once you’ve decided on a college, you’ll know how much tuition you need to pay. Remember also to consider the other costs you’ll have such as housing, meals, and books. If you are considering financial aid options, you will want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible.

Then, calculate the total cost of attending college and assess whether your family’s financial resources, scholarships, loans, and grants suffice to cover all expenses. If there’s a shortfall, explore alternative funding options. This might entail revisiting scholarship opportunities to secure additional financial support. If savings, income, scholarships, and aid packages aren’t enough, then you may need to consider a private student loan.

7. Complete Enrollment

To ensure you are well-prepared, you’ll want to stay on top of important deadlines. Most colleges will give you access to your student portal ahead of time to help with this. It typically involves submitting any required paperwork, such as housing forms, financial aid documents, and health insurance information. You’ll also be able to keep up with other deadlines, such as:

  • Signing up for orientation sessions
  • Submitting housing applications
  • Arranging for transcript submissions
  • Finalizing financial aid requirements
  • Preparing for move-in day

8. Get Packed and Ready To Leave

Now that you know the area you will be living in, you can prepare an accurate packing list for college. Consider the climate and location of your college when packing for your move. Think about temperature, rainfall, and seasonal changes. Aside from clothes, remember to pack essentials for daily life. This could include bedding, towels, toiletries, and basic kitchen supplies if you’ll be in a dorm where you share a bathroom. Start packing early to avoid last-minute stress and ensure you have everything you need.

How Long Do Acceptance Letters Take to Arrive?

The answer to this really depends on when you submitted your application.

Early Action and Early Decision applicants will usually hear back around mid-December. If you applied under Early Decision 2, you should hear back around mid-February. For regular decision applicants, it can be anywhere from two to three months after you applied. Most letters ship out in March and early April.

However, some schools have “rolling admissions.” This means they accept applications from students year-round. If you applied as a rolling admission, you should expect to hear back about two to three months later.

We understand that waiting for those acceptance letters can be tough, but there are things you can do in the meantime!

What Does a College Acceptance Letter Look Like?

This really depends on the school, and wording will vary from college to college. The letter itself though will be congratulating you on your achievements. The envelope should also include information on the next steps and detail what you should do if you decide to accept or decline their offer.

It’s possible, too, that your school may send your acceptance letter by email or over the online portal, so be sure to pay attention to those accounts!

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.