Acceptance Letter Etiquette

We’re in the thick of the college acceptance season. If your child is a high school senior, the mail carrier might have already delivered acceptance packages to your house.

Being wanted is fun, but it’s anything but fun when schools start bullying applicants.

I read an interesting post today written by a guy in the admissions office at George Mason University, who offers advice to students who are getting pressured to make up their minds about their ultimate college choice.

Here’s what he had to say:

A handful of schools (lets call then Immoral, Corrupt, and just plan Bad Universities) try to game that process. The process (you can call it a scam. Go ahead. I do) runs like this: You get, usually in your admission packet, a request for you to commit with a sizable deposit AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. There are vague threats (housing is limited, spaces in orientation are assigned in the order you deposit, you can only have this scholarship if you send us your deposit tomorrow, late depositers never get invited to the best parties freshman year), and no mention of having until May 1, or that anything is refundable.

For the most part, this stuff is a bluff. Odds are if you call them on it, they’ll give you until May 1 to deposit and promise not to mess with your housing, registration, orientation, etc. You might reference the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, and your very innocent and wholesome intention to report (very publicly to everybody you know) that they are in clear violation of that group’s policy. You might also mention that if they are really worth attending, they probably shouldn’t have to resort to threats in order to get you to come to their school, that if they really can’t give you time to consider options, maybe they would be more comfortable with a career selling aluminum siding.

Further Reading:

Naming Names: A List of the Most Generous Colleges

Finding College Cash In Obscure Documents

A Primer on College Scholarships

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes about a college blog for

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