If you’re reading this, you’ve probably applied to schools and been admitted. You may have even honored the May 1st National Response Deadline and indicated to a college or university that you intend to register for classes, move into a residence hall and attend orientation. Maybe you have a hoodie with this school’s name on it. But are you happy with your decision?
Maybe you’re concerned that the financial aid package you received is not realistic for you and your family. Maybe the school you’ve chosen was not among your “top picks” and now you’re wondering why it was on your list at all! Maybe the school’s too far away from home, or not far enough away. It doesn’t matter what the reasons are. If you wish you’d applied elsewhere, there is still time to do so, but you need to act now.
Every year after May 1st, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) sends a survey to all of its member schools, asking which of them still have space to accommodate incoming students for the fall semester. This year, as of the May 2nd deadline, there were 205 schools that responded (many schools don’t respond or respond later, so the numbers change) indicating they have room for first year students! 208 schools have room for transfer students and (drumroll please) 210 schools indicated that they have institutional financial aid available! And remember, the money from these schools is in addition to any monies you may be eligible for by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ So to review, these colleges still have room and money. That’s huge.
To view the Space Availability Survey Results 2013 yourself, go to NACAC’s website http://www.nacacnet.org/space through June 28, 2013. But then what? If you see a school that interests you, what should you do? CALL THE SCHOOL RIGHT AWAY. Let me repeat. CALL THE SCHOOL RIGHT AWAY. Remember all of those postcards and letters and emails you were getting from schools over the past few years? No more are coming. NACAC-member schools are prohibited from attempting to recruit students who have committed to another institution. But over 200 of them are sitting around anxious, because they have space to fill and money to give. So go to the school’s website, find the number for the Office of Undergraduate Admission and call it. When someone answers, ask to speak to an admission counselor. (If you have a minute, you can usually find out who the counselor is for your geographic area or high school on the admission office’s web page.) When you have someone on the phone, mention you saw the school on the NACAC survey and ask if they are still accepting applications for fall. Ask if there is scholarship money still available and ask about housing. Once you get the answers you need, thank the counselor, get off the phone and get cracking on that application!
Something else to consider. If you committed to another school, they typically have the right to keep your enrollment and housing deposit, depending on how this outlined in their enrollment contract. There may be other stipulations also, so before you get ahead of yourself, call the school where you enrolled and speak to an admission counselor there. Don’t be surprised if they play hardball – they may fight you or they may fight for you, by offering you more money to remain enrolled.
One last note. Be honest with yourself and with your schools. If you don’t plan to attend a school, alert them as soon as possible. If you’ve made a mistake and need to find a new game plan, share that with the schools you’re now considering. If there are special circumstances, mention those too. I once received a call from a student who had enrolled at another school but who was now considering my institution because her mother had died and she needed to go to college closer to home. When I heard her story I was willing to move mountains to help her, and did. Your story doesn’t need to be as dramatic, it just needs to be yours.