When do the colleges finalize their decisons?

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Discus: College Admissions: March 2004 Archive: When do the colleges finalize their decisons?
By Angstridden (Angstridden) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 02:48 pm: Edit

I think we are due to hear from our colleges end of March ..1st week in April. But am curious if the decision would already be made by now by the colleges themselves?

By Argilospsychi (Argilospsychi) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 09:12 pm: Edit

hrm. good question.

By Chris2121 (Chris2121) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 09:38 pm: Edit

Yeah, most colleges already have their accept/reject lists done by now, but it is a general industry standard (among the popular schools) not to send out letters until around April 1. If college A got 12,000 apps, finished their decisions early, and mailed them out March 1, they would presumably have an advantage over college B who got 30,000 apps, and won't mail out letters till early April. For some reason, I think that schools are afraid of other schools "beating them to the student's mailbox", so to speak, thereby giving more time for the student to dwell on a particular college. Also, financial situations can change, etc...So it's a general courtesy among the biggies to send out around April 1, so each school can be compared in a fair and equitable time frame.

By Argilospsychi (Argilospsychi) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 01:47 am: Edit

in that case they should release them mid march and then give students a month and a half instead of a month or less to make a decisions!

bah! i think the deepest darkest regions of hell are reserved for admissions officers :)

By Piquant77 (Piquant77) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 09:44 am: Edit

Although I agree about the standardized notification time, I don't think colleges have really finished making their decisions already. I had one interview three days ago, and the report won't even be in until now; plus I read in some article that one big school finished their committee readings on March 22nd or something like that.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 01:15 pm: Edit

Funny, I just posted on this in another thread. I think the last 7-10 days or so they're just tieing up loose ends, getting mailings ready, deciding a few straggling or difficult cases. Remember, doing large mailings and even website prep for a task this large is a non-trivial exercise. Everything needs to be checked, double checked, etc.

But that still would imply that heavy decision making is going on for the next 10-14 days from now; some of these late interviews would also dovetail with that presumption. Aiyeeee!

I really wish more schools would do something civilized like Wellesley's Early Evaluation: about six weeks after the application deadline, if you've checked the EE box, they send you a letter letting you know if you're Likely, Possible, or Unlikely. The EE deadline is only two weeks earlier (Jan. 1) than the regular deadline, so why not do it, especially since so many other schools have Jan. 1 deadlines anyway?

The Likely/Possible/Unlikely gives some sense of closure to at least *some* students.

By Angstridden (Angstridden) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 01:20 pm: Edit

Ok I can see the letter now..

Dear Jane student..

This is not to let you know you got in but we want you to know it is POSSIBLE you may get in..that is if no one comes along who has better stats. HOWEVER, if your stats are best, please be aware that someone may have less finacial need in which case we will take them and not you.
HOWEVER if that does not happen rest assured you will get in so long as a legacy does not wish to be admitted at the last minute.

Thanks for your interest and we will let you know about your possibility for sure sometime in the next few weeks.


College of your choice

By Diane11856 (Diane11856) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 02:03 pm: Edit

Actually, some schools have been sending out acceptances from Feb 1, and since. I know someone who has been accepted at 4 top-50 smal liberal arts colleges....

By Jae (Jae) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 02:13 pm: Edit

Good one Angstridden! We don't want to hear about our acceptance as a "possibility". I think most of us here feel like we have a 50/50 chance anyway, so what would be the point to the letter?

By Ariesathena (Ariesathena) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:14 pm: Edit

I could be wrong, but would a college wait until March to make the bulk of their decisions? I imagine that some are fairly straightforward (accepts with awesome applications, rejects without the credentials), and then decisions would be made from the time applications are received until mid-March. My guess is that now is the time when they are realizing that they need a trombone player and a chess master, then searching the remaining apps for those students. It's probably also the time when the infamous stair acceptances come through: the admissions committee just cannot differentiate tons of equally qualified candidates so they throw the apps on stairs and accept the ones that land on a certain stair. (If the rumour is true...)

In order for the decisions to reach your mailbox by 01 April, they have to be mailed out by the last weekend in March at the latest. If a school has 15,000 applications (which is not unusual for the big ones or the top ones), they have to print out 15k letters and stuff, address, and stamp 15k envelopes. Before that happens, schools which are not need-blind need to analyze their financial aid... all of the accepted students' files are shipped to financial aid, who figures out whether or not they have enough money.

My guess is that the majority of the decisions have been made, but the debates are raging between dozens of remaining applications.

By Thecritic22 (Thecritic22) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:28 pm: Edit

They've probably only just gotten a student's midyear report. I wonder if some colleges make decisions without even seeing them...hmmmm...

By Clipper (Clipper) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:36 pm: Edit

I agree with aries - I think they probably go through the piles and accept the definite admits and then put in a pile the maybes and reject pile for the ones who don't measure up.
Then after the definites are set if they have anymore room left they will go through the lottery method for the rest.
Oh well, we will never know.

By Voigtrob (Voigtrob) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 03:36 pm: Edit

Amherst is (seems to be?) pretty straightforward:


Review of Regular Decision applications begins.

It seems logical to me. They get all the early-write possibles before that probably (perfect stats, URMs, athletes) and review them first, and then in March dig into the bulk of it. Donno how it would be at bigger schools tho.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 04:11 pm: Edit

Angstridden, the Wellesley EE letters lets many students know where they stand. A "Possible" letter is no different than a "Deferred" from EA/ED; the "Unlikely" recipients can get on with their planning.
If more schools did this, instead of being in the dark about eight schools, wouldn't you prefer to know that things were looking good for three and possible for two and you could get deal with the fact that you weren't going to get into the other three?

Btw, there's no sign I've seen that the Possibles are based on legacies...and for schools that are needs-blind, financial aid considerations wouldn't matter either.

By Massdad (Massdad) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 04:20 pm: Edit


To some degree you are right, but the process is a bit more complicated. As the books of the genre "true confessions of an admissions officer" have discussed, an initial screen is done by an individual reader. It is relatively straightforward to select those that do not make the cut. I'm sure this was done a long time ago, and those letters could be already printed and ready to go. The committee is no doubt spending its time on the borderline cases, of which there are quite a few.

Regarding mailings, I suspect they actually outsource a good part of this to shops that handle high volume mailings. For them, printing and stuffing 10,000 rejections probably only takes a few hours. The shop would even pre-sort by zip code to get a mailing discount.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 05:43 pm: Edit

thecritic mentions: "They've probably only just gotten a student's midyear report. I wonder if some colleges make decisions without even seeing them...hmmmm... "

Today I called many of the schools where my daughter applied to check to make sure they had the midyear report (a long time ago she checked with each to make sure they had all the previous documents/app parts), only cause I keep reading horror stories of missing pieces. Some schools said they were reading the files still, some said they were done with that (in passing mentioned this). At Yale, they said they cannot even check cause the files are not where they can get to them (we know they are at the adcoms' houses though am not sure why such data/checklists are not on a computer as is elsewhere). At Tufts, the person who answered looked it up on a computer and said it does not show having the midyear report (which she sent five weeks ago same as with all her schools which do say they have it or that nothing is missing), but not to worry cause it likely is sitting on some pile cause a lot of stuff is sitting in a room and not yet filed and that when she looks this up for many callers, it does not show the midyear report on file either. She implied that it is there but just not opened or filed in all this time. She went on to say that they are reading the file and they do not feel they need that to read it, for whatever that means. So, you are right....who knows if this midyear reports even were read by the person reading the file as this piece came later, plus was not even filed promptly in some cases. Thought I would share that.
PS...at Tufts, she said there was another girl in the database with the same name as my daughter which felt so odd as her name is not very common but not to worry cause that girl is younger and not yet an applicant.

By Angstridden (Angstridden) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 10:26 pm: Edit

Thedad..I was just having fun with a possible letter..
I think your ideas and advice are great!

By Thedad (Thedad) on Monday, March 08, 2004 - 10:35 pm: Edit

Oh...sorry, Angstridden. I took you straight.

MassDad, I know of several schools that *don't* outsource their mailings, no matter how logical this might be.

From TheMom: "You can't afford any leaks, which makes it more likely to stay in-house." Just an opinion, not definitive, of course.

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