If you’re on the receiving end of a positive early admissions decision, congratulations. Make sure to celebrate your acceptance(s) and merit scholarship award(s) over the holiday season. Don’t take any of this lightly even if a college is at the bottom of your college list. You’ve worked extremely hard in school as well as throughout the college application process, earning all of the well deserved recognition, whether in your eyes, great or small.

For those admitted under the Early Decision (ED) category, your college search journey has ended with your signed commitment to attend and the college’s signed letter to admit. Follow the instructions from the dean of admissions related to the deposit deadlines and more, and send thank you’s to all the key members of your college journey team. Mentors, teachers, alumni, and admissions officers who provided support along the way will value your words of appreciation and share in the excitement of the news.

Along with all the positive energy, you will also have a major responsibility related to one of the aforementioned instructions; an ethical choice that could have significant ramifications for others. As noted in your admittance letter, you are required to send an email to all other outstanding college applications indicating that you wish to withdraw your application given the ED acceptance. Some students and parents will feel compelled to keep applications out there just to see if a student could get in. Yet, these actions are unethical and unfair to the thousands of applicants hoping to fill a coveted admissions slot. Look around you…this could be a best friend, a high school peer, a distant cousin, a first generation student.

For Early Action (EA) admits, unlike an ED admit, you are not obligated to respond to the college that has accepted you until the posted date on their letter (on or around May 1, 2013). However, do yourself and others a favor by not waiting until the deadline to show your cards. If you know now, in the distant future or at some point before the deadline that you’ll not attend, send in your withdrawal to open up opportunities for others.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve been denied, take a few days to get over the disappointment and continue on with your action plan. With a well balanced college list strategy in hand, there will be other colleges that represent excellent fits and positive decisions to come. Stay grounded and focused with your strategy. Don’t take the admissions decision personally. Be proud of your application and all that it represents. Application numbers continue to increase markedly (Northeastern received 42,000 for 2,800 slots) so colleges must say no to many students like you who otherwise have a track record that proves potential college success.

And, for those in the land of grey; those who have been deferred to the Regular Decision pool, feel proud of the fact that the college has indicated that you are in line with the admissions’ profile of the Class of 2017. Follow closely the college’s recommendations to stay on their radar…continue to update the admissions committee on any positive changes in your application information that would be looked upon favorably such as a new teacher recommendation, upward grade trends, awards and recognition. If the college is your top choice, say so. Communicate with the admissions office in an appropriate manner, but don’t badger them. Also, educate yourself on past deferred admissions statistics for a reality check on your chances of being admitted down the road. If the college admits a very small percentage from the deferred pool, re-evaluate your strategy to include this telling statistic.

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