Decoding College Admissions Decisions


  • What it feels like: “YES! OMG!” And, loud screaming. Maybe some tears of joy (and relief).
  • What it means: You still need to pass all classes in Spring semester with a C or better, otherwise the acceptance can be rescinded.


  • What it feels like: Rejection. A disapproving judgment of where there’s no discussion, no appeal and only seemingly ceaseless, endless questions. Anger.
  • What it means: Opportunity to test character and the ability to weather unmet expectations, as well as decide which college does match from the options available. *


  • What it feels like: Hope and disappointment simultaneously. Then, the questions start. “What more can I do?” “When will the university tell me if I’ve been accepted or not?” “Why did I get waitlisted?”
  • What it means: The college is protecting its interests to be sure to have enough students in the incoming Fall freshman class. Generally, decisions about applicants from the waitlist are made after May 1, when all the admitted students have submitted their replies. *

“Likely” Letter*: a recent innovation borrowed from college athletic recruiters, used by college admissions offices

  • What it feels like: “I’m in!” “Wow! Somebody knows my name!”
  • What it means: In all likelihood, you’ll be accepted into the college sending the “likely” letter, BUT don’t make any final decisions. Wait for the official offer of acceptance before celebrating.


*Admissions decisions are conditional. Be sure to read all the conditions and processes that need to be followed. (Even denials can be appealed, yet know that the decision may still not be overturned.) Ask any and all questions to be clear on the next steps, and consult trusted advisors if more strategic decision-making is needed.