Key points

  • In another tough college admissions season, more students have been turned away or waitlisted at their favorite schools.
  • Now, students have fewer options and little time to decide their next step before National College Decision Day on May 1.
  • Experts share their top tips before choosing a school.

Students only have a few weeks to understand university they will attend before National College Decision Day on May 1, which is the deadline set by many schools.

But with a record increase in requests Pushing acceptance rates to historic lows, some college-bound seniors may have to make a tough choice or move on to relief schools.

If you haven’t received the news you expected, “keep an open mind,” said Connie Livingston, head of college counseling at college counseling firm Empowerly and former admissions officer at Brown University. There is absolutely a way forward, he said, although it may take a little more work.

Decision comes as they discuss what to do about Biden’s plan to eliminate $400 billion in student debt

To that end, the experts share their top tips on how to frame your decision before choosing a school, including navigating a waiting list and, of course, considering financial aid.

How to choose a university

To get started, pick a few schools from the acceptance list, based on which ones are best suited in terms of cost, academics, campus life, and other factors. So go ahead.

For students who weren’t accepted to their first choice, take the opportunity to revisit other schools, advised Eric Greenberg, president of the Greenberg Educational Group, a New York-based consulting firm. “Many colleges have programs for accepted students and freshmen, which can set a comfort level.”

Keep in mind that you can always transfer to one of the top schools on your wish list after a semester or two, he said. “Realize that you’re really committing to a year,” Livingston added. “It doesn’t have to be the end and be everything.”

If you have a son or daughter in the ninth grade of high school and want to give them a better chance at college, there is a high school in Los Angeles County that can help you a lot.

What to do if you’ve been on the waiting list

Candidates on the waiting list have not been completely rejected by a university or have not been formally offered admission.

Instead, they may be considered for a seat by September, depending on whether there is enough room for them in the incoming class, among other factors.

The first thing seniors on the waitlist should do is write a letter of continued interest in college to let them know why they want to attend, Greenberg said.

Sharon Barber, 79, earned an associate’s degree at Weber State after taking a 40-year hiatus to work and raise a family.

Then provide an update since your application was submitted that shows what you could contribute. For example, you may have taken classes or completed a research project that helped understand why this school is now an even better choice.

“You don’t want to repeat things; you want to bring new information,” Greenberg said.

Financial aid factor

Also consider the amount of help available. Some financial aid is given on a first-come, first-served basis or for programs with limited funds. Students admitted in the first round tend to be the first to receive scholarships and other forms of assistance.

Latino communities are the most affected. Video by Jacqueline Mata. For more information, visit

“Waitlisted students are the last to receive financial aid,” Greenberg warned. This is perhaps the most important consideration, after all.

Most students and their parents now say that affordability and management of debt burden which often goes hand in hand with a university degree is his main concern, even before entering the school of his first choice, according to the Hopes and Concerns Survey in 2023 from The Princeton Review.

An astonishing 98% of families said the financial aid paying for college would be necessary, with 82% saying it was “extremely” or “very” necessary, according to results from The Princeton Review.

What experts recommend according to our sister network CNBC.

Key points for future candidates

Finally, the toughest application cycle yet can serve as an important lesson for future applicants, according to Christopher Rim, president and CEO of Command Education.

“It’s not just about getting the best grades and the best test scores,” he said.

“The best schools’ decision letters are a reminder of the importance of building a balanced list of colleges, honing your interests to convey a unique approach, and starting early in the process.”

Check out the details here.

Livingston advises high school students to avoid prestige and brand-name schools and programs and research based on other factors such as location, size, fields of study, research opportunities, sports, clubs sportsmen, etc. and campus life.

“Visit schools and talk to current students,” he said. “The key is to make sure he can be seen at all those schools.”

This article It was originally published in English by Jessica Dicker, for our sister network To learn more about CNBC, enter here.

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