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Articles / Applying to College / Can My Daughter Change her College Plans in August?

July 31, 2017

Can My Daughter Change her College Plans in August?

Question: My daughter recently attended orientation at the university she had planned to attend but decided that she didn't fit in there at all. So we contacted another university that had accepted her in the spring (but she turned down) to ask if they might still have room for her, and they said yes! So what is my daughter's obligation to the first college? Since she's already been to orientation, does she still have to go?

College officials always expect a certain amount of “summer melt." That's the term they use for students who submit their intention to enroll but then change their minds in June, July, or August. Your daughter should notify her university promptly if she is definitely not attending, but she should to get the commitment from the second school in writing before proceeding with the withdrawal. If you are expecting financial aid and/or housing from the second school, you need to get those commitments in writing, too (email is fine), before she cuts her ties with the first college.


When your daughter notifies this first college that she won't be enrolling, she should be careful not to burn bridges, just in case she changes her mind yet again in a year or more. She should apologize for her 11th-hour decision and explain that her experience at the orientation made her feel like she'd made the wrong choice. If she can provide more specific information (e.g., the college felt too large or not diverse enough), it would be helpful to admission officials to know why she's bowing out.

Don't expect to get back any deposits you've paid although it can't hurt to ask. Some schools will allow returns on housing deposits before a certain date, so you might get lucky if you've paid for housing but the bail-out deadline hasn't passed yet.

And your daughter—or you—shouldn't feel guilty about the change of heart. She needs to do what seems right for her, and now some other student, who would love to grab your daughter's spot at the college's she's abandoning, may soon receive good news. :-)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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