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Articles / Applying to College / College Decision Day: What Is It, When Is It, and How Should You Decide?

College Decision Day: What Is It, When Is It, and How Should You Decide?

Written by Sam Jaquez | April 3, 2023
Photo by Yan Krukau

College Decision Day marks the end of a long and challenging process for students and families who have spent weeks, months, and even years preparing for and applying to college. And with College Decision Day fast approaching, many high school seniors and college hopefuls are preparing to accept their place at the college or university of their choice.

When Is College Decision Day?

College Decision Day is a national event that occurs each year on May 1st. College Decision Day is also commonly referred to as National Decision Day, National College Decision Day, and College Signing Day. It's the deadline for many students who applied to college and have received admissions offers to make their final decision about where they will attend college in the upcoming fall, because many colleges require an enrollment deposit by May 1st.

The May 1st date is the standard date by which most colleges expect to hear from students who applied regular decision. However, there are many schools that accept notices of decision before and after this common date.

If you were put on a waitlist, college decision day holds a different meaning. After college decision day, many schools will begin to notify waitlisted students of their acceptances. So, if you were waitlisted for a school, you may hear back soon.

What To Consider When Choosing a College

There are many factors to consider when making a college decision when you have multiple options. You may find that some factors are more important than others, so be sure to take that into account when deciding.

  • Visit the campus of your top choices - there is still time to visit your college choices before May 1st.
  • Meet with current students and faculty - while touring the campus finding time to meet others who are familiar with the school could be a great way to see if their experiences align with your expectations.
  • Consider cost - including cost of tuition, housing, fees and financial aid. Which schools meet your financial parameters? If financial aid is important in your decision, be sure to compare your aid packages carefully. You may also want to calculate the expected return on investment (ROI) for different schools.
  • Student activities and resources - each college has different student activities and resources. Consider how important this will be to your experience and research which schools will provide you the opportunities to do the activities that you love.
  • Location - Do you want to stay close to home or move across the country? How will you get to and from school for breaks? Location can have a big impact on both quality of life and finances.

College Decision Day Outcomes

For some students, College Decision Day is a day of celebration. You may be counting down the days until your first day at your dream school. Or you be dealing with the disappointment that comes with not being accepted to your top choice schools, and now face a difficult decision.

Ultimately, National College Decision Day is a time to celebrate all of the hard work and dedication that goes into applying for college. As the day approaches, consider your options, goals, and schools and alternatives carefully, but remember that this is just one decision in a lifetime of decisions.

Whatever you choose, you are not alone. Choosing what to do after high school can feel overwhelming. If you need help, reach out and talk to teachers, counselors, parents, or friends. College Decision Day is just the beginning of a new chapter in your life.

📚 Join the CC Community for more discussion on making your college decision, applying to college, and more!

📚 Regular Decision Central

📚 Admissions Timeline: A Guide for Juniors and Seniors

Written by


Sam Jaquez

Sam is a freelance writer. She studied at the University of Massachusetts Boston where she earned a degree in English.

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