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National College Decision Day: May 1

This coming Wednesday is National College Decision Day, which falls on May 1 every year. This is the deadline by which almost all college applicants must choose an undergraduate school. Here are a few pointers to remember, now that you’ve likely made your decision about college.


It feels good, doesn’t it? The whole college admissions process is finally behind you, and now you’re free to focus on the excitement of embarking on a new chapter in your life. When I was getting ready for college, I never liked the whole “These will be the best years of your life” mantra I heard again and again from my elders. It gave me a sense of running out of gas early in life, almost a sense of dread and need to desperately clutch on to these four precious years. Now that I am your elder, I can say they will be very, very awesome years, but your years only get better and better, even well after college is over. So definitely get excited about this chapter, but also know there will be plenty of reasons to look forward to the later ones too. 

Do NOT double-deposit.

For some, choosing a college by May 1 is complicated and stressful, and the idea of placing a deposit at more than one school is too tempting to pass up. There is no deposit police, but placing a deposit means you are essentially committing yourself to attend that school next fall. Therefore, it’s unethical to place more than one deposit at multiple schools because you cannot commit to more than one school. So don’t do it. It’s not fair. It removes the option for another student (probably on the waitlist and who would do anything to attend) to receive an admission offer early enough to plan out his or her life. Play by the rules. Plus, karma is a you-know-what. 

You’re not married.

It’s likely you’ll remain at this college for the entirety of your undergraduate years, but who knows? Maybe you’ll find an opportunity elsewhere and transfer. I don’t like planning for transfer before a student has even enrolled as a freshman, but do know that you’ve committed yourself to just a year (or in some cases, even a semester). If you want other options, you have them. If the idea of attending the school you’ve chosen for four years seems overwhelming, just remember you will have options if you decide to make a change. 

Waiting on something better? Don’t.

If you’ve been waitlisted somewhere else, move forward with a deposit at a school where you’ve actually been admitted. Getting off the waitlist does happen, but statistically, it’s not super-likely (though definitely check out our recommendations for what to do if you are waitlisted). If you do get off the waitlist, you will lose your deposit, but you can be easily released from the commitment to attend in the fall. So move forward with the options that are in front of you, and know that sometimes life unfolds in unexpected ways and in ways better than you could ever design for yourself. 

Ultimately, the decision is yours. You are the author of the next chapter of your life. At the same time, remember to have a loose grip on the pen. Life will very likely unfold in ways better than you could ever design for yourself. Make the decision and know it’s the right one. Why? Because you are the one who made it. There is no right or wrong answer here. College is not the landing site — it’s the launchpad.

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