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Thanks, but no thanks: How to say no

May 1 is right around the corner.  In the college admissions world, that is an important date, the National Candidates Reply Date, in which rising college freshmen let the colleges know if they plan to attend their institution in the fall. You have made your decision; the housing and enrollment deposits are in the mail or most likely, paid online and you have several tasks to complete in making this transition from high school to college.

If more than one college admitted you, it is now your turn to send a reply to each of those institutions declining their offer of admission. Yes, tell them you will not be attending their school! Why and how do you do this?

It is the right thing to do.  They told you yes, you considered their offer, now tell those schools thanks, but no thanks. Of course, you want to convey this message in a professional manner but you get my drift. Colleges and universities spend a great deal of time and effort in enrollment management, of which one component is predicting the number of students accepting their offers of admission. Too few and they do not meet their revenue goals. Too many and now they must find beds for on campus residential  students and the appropriate number of classes, internships and research opportunities so students can graduate in four years and move on to the next phase of their lives.

You received an acceptance; another student may have received a deferral and then an offer to accept a place on the institution’s wait list. Before the college can offer a place off the dreaded wait list, they need to know that you do not want the spot offered to you. No hard feelings, just the business side that folks outside of higher education sometimes overlook.

Several ways to respond. One size does not fit all. There are multiple ways to respond so pick one, any one and follow through.

  • Check your online student portal for instructions on how to decline an offer of admission. Many colleges make it convenient to respond to them.
  • Look through the mail for a postcard or letter detailing the best way to get this information to the college. Sometimes, it is as simple as checking a box on a postcard and dropping it in the mail. That postcard or letter may be in that pile of unopened mail from those institutions you are not attending. Open the mail, tell them no and stop any new mail.
  • Send an email to the admissions office, preferably your regional admission representative. If you are not sure, check the signature on your acceptance letter. Still not sure? Send the email to the admissions office along with your assigned student ID to help the office identify you.  There may be more than one person with your name.

What to put in the message? “Dear Mr. /Mrs. /Ms. XXXX, Thank you for your offer of admission to YYYY College. After considering your offer, I decided to attend ZZZZ University. Sincerely, Belinda J. Wilkerson”. That is it.  It does not have to be fancy. Like Nike says, “Just do it!”

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