You did it! You’ve been accepted to a school and no longer have to resign yourself to a lifetime of work at McDonald’s. Those application essays, awkward requests for recommendation letters, years of studying for the standardized test of your choice, and precious hours of sleep sacrificed for grades…they all paid off, and now, you’re headed to college.
Well, not so fast. If this were a cheesy movie, it might end with an acceptance letter in your hand–freeze frame, mid-ecstatic jump–but your life is, well, real life, and there are just a few orders of business to attend to before you can pack your bags.
1. Look at Financial Aid
We might as well rip off the band-aid now: it all comes down to financial aid. An acceptance letter is wonderful and beautiful, but unfortunately, for a lot of us, it doesn’t mean anything without a “P.S. Here’s some money.”
If your school hasn’t sent you financial aid information, check on why. Your aid might be on its way…or it might not. Double-check that you filled out your forms. Call the financial aid office and see if they need anything else.
If your school sent you financial aid information with your acceptance, hallelujah praise the Lord, look at it and calculate exactly how doable attendance is. Look at your savings. Talk to your parents and make a plan for how you’re going to make this work. Will you need to take out a few loans or sell one of your siblings? Remember that you can always appeal (though sooner is probably better than later), but don’t put all your eggs in the “appeal” basket. (Or in the “sibling selling” basket.)
2. Make a Note of Deadlines
Assuming the school is a financial option, it’s time to make a note of deadlines and, more specifically, the enrollment deposit deadline. While most will be May 1, some schools are sneaky and put theirs earlier. Figure out the last possible day you have to decide on which school you’re going to. Even if you’re decided on this school, you’ll have some other deadlines to worry about: housing, dining, and financial aid acceptance. Keep track–stick them in your Google Calendar–and stay on top of them.
3. Assume It’s Your Last–and Get Excited
I’m not saying that you’re only getting accepted to one school, but if your other decisions haven’t come in yet, you need to plan as if the slow-poke schools didn’t exist. Which is fine, because who needs them when you have a wonderful school like this? If you’re still waiting on another decision, or for 12 people on a waitlist to suddenly change their minds, it’s fine to hope, but don’t depend on it. Get excited about the schools that have already accepted you and that are financially viable.
4. Keep Your Grades Up
Unfortunately, you’re not done with school (even if you are 15895631% done with school). Don’t start slacking, finish off strong, all that jazz. You’ve heard it before. Most importantly, though, you need to think about not getting your admission rescinded. TP’s own Jillian Feinstein has a wonderful article about how to slack without risking rescindment.
5. Talk to Students, Visit, Make a Tentative Decision
Although you probably talked to students and visited before getting accepted, these activities are far different when completed post-acceptance. Pre-acceptance, you can’t let yourself get too attached. Post-acceptance, on the other hand, you can fall deeply in love with the school because it’s too late for them to reject you. (Assuming you followed number 4.)
Don’t just “fall in love,” though. What do students hate about the school? What makes students transfer? This isn’t to dissuade you from going there; on the contrary, it’s to help you figure out if you could stand the school at its very worst. Compared to the other schools that have accepted you, where does this one fall on the list? If it were down to just those that have accepted you, tentatively decide on which you would pick.
6. Happy Dance!
Once all that is out of the way, celebrate! Ice cream is a great way to replenish the energy that you lost while happy dancing.
For 9 more things to do after acceptance, check out Alexis Zimmer’s “9 Things to Do Once You’re Accepted to College.