Tag Archives: choosing a university

What to do after you receive the college acceptance letter


Receiving an acceptance letter from a college is an important moment not just for the applicant, but their family as well. Jeffrey Brenzel, ex-Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Yale University says many families have no idea what to do when the acceptance comes in. Getting an acceptance, though joyous, can also leave you a little bewildered on what you should do next. An intentional decision-making process will ensure your happiness and success.

Here is an optimal step-by-step approach to what you should do after receiving the acceptance letter.

1. Wait for letters from other colleges

If you have applied to more than one college, it is best to wait and see if you get a response from a college you prefer over the current one. Colleges start sending out letters by mid-March and for most colleges, the National Candidates Reply Date is in May. However, make sure you go through the documents and check the stated deadline.

2. Compare costs

If you have received an acceptance letter from multiple colleges, conduct a cost comparison. Do not look at just the tuition fees, but take into consideration other expenses such as cost of food, cost of living in the city, transportation, hostel fees, cost of books and any other expenses you might incur. Do a comparative analysis and discuss it with your family. Take into account the loan amount you plan to take.

Subtract any confirmed grant or scholarship money and be sure you are able to meet the net expenses comfortably. Ask yourself, “Can I afford the cost or do I need to pick up a part-time job? If I have to work, can I juggle my studies and the job, without compromising my grades?”. Keep in mind, if you perform very well in your freshman year, you may be eligible for a scholarship for your sophomore, junior or senior years, but don’t be dependent on that happening.

3. Re-visit the campus

Hopefully you have already visited the campuses where you’ve applied. Make sure you re-visit your top two choices. These days students apply to multiple colleges, and therefore, it becomes difficult for admission officers to assess how interested the applicant actually is. If you visit the campus and show your interest, this acts as an important factor for your candidature.

As per a survey conducted by The National Association for College Admission Counseling in 2015, a very important factor for freshmen were a student’s demonstrated interest. According to the survey, this is what the admission officers look for:

“The top factors in the admission decision for the Fall 2015 admission cycle were: grades in college preparatory courses, strength of curriculum, overall high school GPA, and admission test scores. Among the next most important factors were the essay, a student’s demonstrated interest, counselor and teacher recommendations, extracurricular activities, and class rank.” – NACAC

Let us break these down so you can perfect your score in all these areas and up your chances you securing your seat, because some colleges do rescind their offer if their conditions are not met.

  1. Grades, admission test scores, class rank and teacher recommendation- These can be achieved by dedication, discipline and perseverance.

  2. Overall high GPA – Getting accepted into a college should not make you lose focus on your high school grades. Most letters have a conditional clause which indicates your overall GPA needs to be a minimum for the acceptance to stand valid. Declining grades or disciplinary actions can cause the colleges to revoke the offer. So do party after getting your letter, but get back to work soon after!

  3. Admission essay – Writing an admission essay can be tricky. While this essay is supposed to bring out your thoughts and is a platform to state your personal goals, but remember the essay needs to be professional and succinct. If you are not too sure about how well your essay reads, contact the best essay writers and take their assistance to improve your essay writing skills.

  4. Your demonstrated interest – As stated above, visiting a college campus not only substantiates your interest to the admission officer, but also gives you a lot more information about the college. It is advisable to attend a class so you can know about the quality of instructors, or attend a regional event on the campus, or just spend a day to get an overall feel about the campus. Ask yourself, “Do I envision myself coming here every day and liking it?”. See if you fit into the campus “politically, religiously and geographically” as suggested by Robert Franek, Vice President- Publishing, Princeton Review.

4. Internship opportunities

Check out the different internship opportunities offered within the major at your accepted colleges. Also ensure they offer the majors you are interested in. Choose a college that scores high on these two factors as they determine an important part of your growth.

5. Connect and investigate

Kiersten Murphy, Director, Seattle-based Murphy College Consultants says you need to be a “great investigator“.

Some good avenues you can check to know more about the college, apart from visiting the campus, are:

  • Check out their blog. This usually speaks volumes about the college culture.
  • Find out how many students return after the freshman year.
  • Find out how many students graduate.
  • Talk to current students, alumni of the college and staff from the college.
  • Connect with people in Facebook groups, LinkedIn and other social media communities.
  • Talk to your high school counselor or college advisor. Chances are they may have additional information and useful insights.

While it is a great idea to connect with people and get their thoughts, but be discerning and know how to differentiate opinion from fact.

6. Get social

Attend a local alumni gathering. You will not only get to meet people and make friends, but many times these early connections can lead to future job prospects. Once you’ve accepted and are told who your roommate will be, reach out to get to know them. You can also discuss who would bring what for sharing in your dorm room. Don’t put this off to the day you show up on campus!

7. Don’t be passive

Most colleges appreciate if the student stays in touch with them throughout the admissions process. Keep them informed about your latest grades or updated GPAs. It is also wise to have your teacher or high school counselor send a letter, but do not assume they will do it on their own. Take the initiative to approach them and request them to do it. Any letter of recommendation from your teachers has a lot of value.

However, some colleges have a handful of admission officers and bombarding them with frequent updates can be annoying, and might even hurt your chances of acceptance. But this is a recommended way if you are planning to get into a small college.

8. Ask for an extension, if required

If you need some more time to arrive at a decision, write a letter requesting for an extension. If you do get it, use the extra time responsibly to make the decision. Do not make the mistake of sending deposits to multiple colleges to buy time. This is not only unethical, but colleges might retract their offer if they find out.

What should you do if you receive a list letter from a college?

Receiving a conditioned acceptance letter (aka, wait listed) can be difficult and leave you frustrated. In such cases, it is advisable to go ahead with some other college where you received a confirmed offer. Do not pay any deposit fees to be on the wait list. Talk to your high school counselor or college advisor to discuss an action plan and get more clarity on the way ahead.

Hurray! You have chosen the college! What’s next

Read all their documents and make a list of what you need to send them. You will need to send:

  • forms completed thoroughly and correctly
  • your letter of acceptance and confirmation
  • the deposit
  • letter requesting financial aid, if any
  • any special needs or disability requests, if applicable

Write to the other colleges

Do not forget to write to the other colleges you received acceptance from to let them know of your decision. Write them a grateful letter thanking them for their acceptance and declining your interest. This will help the admission officers sort out their list and contact the wait list candidates to join them.

Use an intentional decision-making process to choose the best college for you, one that you will be happy to be a part of, and that will help you achieve your professional goals, but remember to be realistic with your expectations. Keep in mind what Brenzel, Yale University, says – “Remember above all else that no college is going to be paradise, and that all colleges have something outstanding to offer you.”

Meenakshi VenugopalMeenakshi Venugopal is a guest blogger and the co-founder of Hashtag17, a company that specialises in web designing and development, graphic designing and social media marketing. When she is not working on projects with her clients, she guest blogs on education, technology and management. She is a contributor on Entrepreneur and JPost.

Livia SusanLivia Susan is a business manager who recently started Lifesaver Essays after being a freelance research and writer for over 6 years. She has helped numerous companies and individuals with their web strategy, social media strategy, content, blog posts, and much more so their companies could establish an identity of their own. With the start of her own education company, Lifesaver Essays, Livia plans to make education better and easier for students.

Is Choice of College Setting Your Destiny?


Your destiny based on college choiceThe article in the Washington Post, The Resume That Makes for a Top Executive, by Gena McGregor, references a new study published this week in the Harvard Business Review, which provides a snapshot over time of the demographics and career trajectories of Fortune 100 executives. The study shows how much the boardroom is changing. Not all students are interested in becoming the next CEO of Google, but choosing a college continues to be riddled with anxiety for those that have choices. The study’s data reveals some changes that are worthy of noting for any high school student (or parent) struggling over which college/university will be best – regardless of career direction.

The study states the majority of top executives now have undergraduate degrees from state universities, with only a fraction going to college at one of the Ivies. Nearly 11 percent of the top executives are foreign-educated, up from just 2 percent in 1980. And however few women there may be in leadership positions, they actually climbed the corporate ladder faster than men, spending fewer years, on average, in each job and taking a shorter time to get to the top.

The research, an effort by professors from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and IE Business School in Madrid, compiled the backgrounds of the top 10 executives at each Fortune 100 company in 2011 — those who might be called the most powerful 1,000 people in corporate jobs. They conducted the same study in 1980 and 2001.

What has interested people most about their study has been the details about where executives got their education. “I was surprised that’s been such a remarkably big deal for most folks,” Cappelli says. “I guess it’s something that makes people think about their children. Anyone with kids is thinking about these roles, and it’s an aspect of inequality that’s very noticeable to people.”

The study shows the education backgrounds of top corporate leaders are becoming much more equal over time. In 1980, just 32 percent of leaders went to a public university. By 2001 that had grown to 48 percent, and in 2011 the number reached a majority, with 55 percent of corporate leaders going to state colleges. While the percent of Ivy Leaguers has dropped slightly, from 14 percent in 1980 to 10 percent in both 2001 and 2011, those with degrees from private non-Ivies has plummeted, falling from 54 percent in 1980 to just 35 percent in 2011.

Why are we seeing so many more corporate executives from public universities? More meritocratic corporate cultures could be playing a role, Cappelli notes, but he thinks it’s mainly due to history. “It’s a bit of an archaeological story,” he says. “If you think back to when the executives now went to school, around 30 years ago, it was sort of the…golden era of state universities, which really boomed in the late ’60s and ’70s. Schools like Michigan and Berkeley — they were building these fabulous campuses, and pulling people in who would have otherwise gone to Ivy League schools.”

That’s not to say elite schools don’t still hold sway among MBA-holders and the very top leaders. If you look at the three most senior executives in each organization (say, the CEO, CFO and Chairman), 21 percent have an undergraduate degree from an Ivy League school, compared with 10 percent overall. Additionally, 40 percent of all the executives who hold MBAs got them at one of the top 20 ranked business schools in the country, many of which are at Ivy League universities.

Another way the makeup of the boardroom is changing, of course, is in the number of women. Like other studies before it, the Wharton/IE Business School professors counted the number of women at the top, finding that almost 18 percent of the top jobs were held by women in 2011. That’s a massive swing from 1980, when they reported finding no women among the top 1,000 corporate leaders.

More interesting than the stubbornly few number of women at the top, however, was the finding that women are managing to reach the top faster. It took women an average of 28 years to reach the “top-tier positions” (CEOs, vice chairs, presidents and the like), compared with 29 years for men. Women reached “middle-tier” jobs (executive VPs, general counsels, chief marketing officers) in 23 years, compared with 26 years for men. In addition, women were promoted quicker in each of their jobs, at an average rate of every four years, while it took men five.

Cappelli offers three explanations for why this might be. One, he says, could be an explicit effort by companies to get women into top jobs faster. “It’s possible that a type of affirmative action is going on,” he says. Another could be that the talent pool of women in these executive jobs is simply better. Because we see more women than men change work paths or drop out of the workforce in the middle rungs of their career, he says, it’s possible “the women are actually better because they’re self-selecting.”

Finally, Cappelli suggests, the difference may be due to the fact that there are more women in functional jobs — such as human resources, legal or marketing — for which the technical expertise needed means they’re promoted more quickly. In the report, the researchers call it “riding a different elevator.”

“If you’re going up through a functional track,” Cappelli says, “you could be advancing at a very different pace than the folks who are going up through operations jobs” that may require more rotations or longer tenures at each stop along the way.

Quirks about the leadership ranks at different companies, and what they might reveal about the different corporate cultures, may be even more interesting than the broad-based trends the study found. For instance, the average length of a top Google executive’s career is just 14 years (the shortest in the Fortune 100) while at Hewlett Packard and ConocoPhillips, it’s 32 years (the longest). Meanwhile, some companies have outstanding male-to-female ratios among the top 10 execs — at Target, Lockheed Martin and PepsiCo, women hold half the senior management jobs — while as of 2011, there were still 17 companies in the Fortune 100 with no women at all among their top 10 leaders.

To Cappelli, this is among the most interesting of the study’s results. “They’re all just so different,” he says. “There’s a UPS model, there’s a Google model and there’s an Exxon model. The idea that there is a corporate model of leadership just doesn’t seem to resonate any more.”

The take-away – Strategically narrow your college choice

Many high school students choose a college mainly on emotional criteria. The following is based on a study by the University of California—Los Angeles‘s released in January 2013, “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2012.” The 2012 study is based on the responses of 192,912 first-year students at 238 U.S. four-year colleges and universities who entered college in fall 2012.

Strategic Reasons Emotional Reasons
1. College has very good academic reputation (63.8 percent) 5. A visit to this campus (41.8 percent)
2. This college’s graduates get good jobs (55.9 percent) 6. College has a good reputation for its social activities (40.2 percent)
3. I was offered financial assistance (45.6 percent) 10. I wanted to live near home (20.1 percent)
4. The cost of attending this college (43.3 percent) 11. Information from a website (18.7 percent)
7. Wanted to go to a college about this size (38.8 percent) 12. Rankings in national magazines (18.2 percent)
8. College’s grads get into top grad/professional schools (32.8 percent) 13. Parents wanted me to go to this school (15.1 percent)
9. The percentage of students that graduate from this college (30.4 percent) 16. High school counselor advised me (10.3 percent)
  18. Athletic department recruited me (8.9 percent)
  19. Attracted by the religious affiliation/orientation of college (7.4 percent)
  20. My relatives wanted me to come here (6.8 percent)
  20. My teacher advised me (6.8 percent)
  22. Private college counselor advised me (3.8 percent)

To make the best choice, identify your personal preferences for industry and career direction first (you can still be somewhat general but the more clarity the better at this stage). Then research which universities are tied into those industries and are academically highly ranked for the major you are wanting. Look for major corporate donors to a university to see the connection. As they say, follow the money trail. Another way is to call the placement office and ask which companies consistently hire interns (in your major) from the university’s student population.

Carl Nielson is Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries and Managing Principal of The Nielson Group, an organizational development consulting firm that provides executive development coaching, team development and assessments for hiring. As creator of the Career Coaching for Students program for high school students and Career and Success Skills Mastery for College Students and Recent Grads, Carl and his team of licensed facilitators across North America have helped thousands of students find a better way through a career exploration process that works.  Self-directed assessment and career exploration coaching packages start at $399. Local public workshops, distance-coaching and in-school programs available. Call for more information at 972.346.2892.