Imagine this scenario: You filled out your college applications and sat patiently to wait for acceptance letters. And to your great shock, you discovered that you were not accepted. Hopefully, you sent applications to several different types of schools (both safety schools and reach schools) and won't experience this scenario, but it some cases, it does happen. If you find yourself in this situation, don't panic.
"First of all, take a deep breath and try not to beat yourself up or dwell on what went wrong," says Cathy Chen, founder of Village Coaching. "The college admissions process is complicated and not reliably predictable and this happens sometimes. Look at this as an opportunity to take some time to reconsider what you really want to do next year."
If you applied Early Action or Early Decision and did not get accepted, you may still have time to apply to regular decision colleges. "If the student does not get accepted anywhere, a new plan is based to some degree on timing," says Terry Mady-Grove, president of Charted University Consultants.
If you still want to try to gain acceptance to college in fall 2020, some institutions will still have openings for the freshman class.
"A number of colleges in the US, UK and Canada have later deadlines, and some even have rolling deadlines, meaning they keep accepting applications until all of their openings are filled. You may be surprised to find out how much some of these schools have to offer; however, in the event that you enroll in a late-deadline college and it doesn't meet your expectations, you can explore transfer options the following year," explains Eric Endlich, PhD, founder of Top College Consultants.
Endlich advises that students interested in continuing to pursue fall 2020 admission search online for colleges still accepting applications by using the search terms "colleges with late application deadlines" or "colleges with rolling admissions." Additionally, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) publishes a list in early May each year called "College Openings Update" that informs the public of which schools are still accepting applications for fall admission.
"If you find colleges of interest on these lists, I recommend going to the colleges' websites or reaching out to their admissions counselors to confirm that they are still accepting applications," Endlich says. "There may even be some financial aid still being offered, although this tends to be available on a first-come, first-served basis, so apply promptly."
There are also other options if fall 2020 admission is not something you want to pursue further at this stage. Community college can be a great option — and many have articulation agreements with state public universities that ensure a seamless transfer of credits. Also, considering a gap year is another option. "Your accomplishments during this year might enhance your prospects for college admission the following year," notes Endlich.
No matter which of these options you choose, remember that this is just about timing — acceptance now or later is what is important, but if it's not immediate, there is still time to find the college you want to attend and gain acceptance.
"Timing may not be what the student initially wanted there is time to consider a gap year, work, do a postgraduate year at a boarding school or community college and strategically and appropriately applying during the fall. I always say that life is a marathon, not a sprint. The revised timeline will work out," says Mady-Grove.
In addition, Chen adds, if you have your heart set on going to a certain college, get in touch with their admissions office and find out what their transfer process is like. "You will likely need to enroll at a local community college to fulfill the requirements as a transfer student. Remember, if you to apply to the same list of colleges that you were denied from originally, you must have new compelling academic information that the school can consider in order to get a different outcome."
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