posted May 1, 2011, 10:28 PM by Glenda Durano   [ updated Jul 1, 2011, 12:58 PM ]

May 1st is a date that is etched in every high school senior’s mind.  It is the national reply date for college admissions.  It is the date by which all incoming freshmen need to reply to the college of their choice.  On May 2nd, any student who has not replied stands to lose his acceptance, and certainly, his financial aid

In today’s society, communication is frequently lacking.  When a student receives an acceptance letter, he may make an assumption like, “Great, I’m accepted to ‘Utopia U.’  I’ll show up in August.”  In order to be enrolled, however, a student must accept a spot in the incoming class in writing.  He also needs to accept whatever form of financial aid that he wants from the school (any combination of loans, grants, and work study), and he needs to send in a deposit for both housing and tuition.  In addition, a student should sign up for freshman registration and, if offered, orientation. 

Of course, that’s in an ideal world.

Many students will not have made their decision by May 1st.  If they haven’t, is it too late? 

Students who have not made their decision by May 1st are frequently having a difficult time handling the stress of this major decision.  They may regret the fact that they didn’t get sufficient financial aid to attend their top school.  They may regret that they didn’t try their best to maintain good greats and high achievements throughout high school so that they had more college choices.  They may be having second thoughts about being so far away from home. Whatever the case, if a student hasn’t decided where to attend by May 1st, he does have several options.  

First, many colleges still have room.  In June, the National Association of College Admissions Counselors posts a list on its website of universities with freshman availability.  This might give the student some selections.  However, a student doesn’t have to wait until then.  He should go through the standard process of college selection, finding several universities that fit his needs—not simply a school that is cheap or easy to get into—and he should see if it has any openings in its freshman class.  If there is room and if he can afford it without financial aid, he should apply as soon as possible.

A second possibility is that the student attends community college and picks up some core credits while deciding on an appropriate four-year university.  Forty-five percent of American students end up taking this route, primarily due to cost considerations.  Do be aware, however, that if your student does this, generally speaking, he will not be eligible for freshman scholarships to a four-year university, but only transfer scholarships. 

Third, the student may decide that he needs a gap year to find his focus.  This is a very popular option in Europe, but it is not done as often in the U.S.  Nevertheless, a gap year can be an incredible time of growth.  Students spend the year working and volunteering, trying to discover their passions so they can find a school that facilitates their needs.  Many students in New Mexico are hesitant to try this option due to their dependence on the lottery scholarship, which requires students to enter college immediately after high school.  My advice to those students would be, rather than rushing into school simply to get a degree, think about what you want.  Twenty-five to thirty-five percent of students lose their lottery scholarship in the first semester and only ten percent carry the lottery scholarship for the full four years.  The main reason they lose the scholarship is because, since they have no idea what they want to study, they enroll in meaningless classes and their grades reflect that disinterest.

Fourth, some students may not need college.  Depending on the direction that the student is called, he may merely need a vo-tech certificate, or perhaps he should just start working directly out of high school.  A student should never feel “forced” to go to college.  It is too time-consuming and too expensive. 

There are options.  As parents, we need to do our best to support our students during this stressful time, and encourage them in their gifts and abilities.  Making a decision like this is tough.  Help your student pray it through and sense the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

For more information about college planning, please call Glenda at 505-867-1207 or continue to peruse this website,  You may also wish to subscribe to my blog: