Accepting Waitlist Offer Instead of Initial College Choice

Question: I was recently admitted off the wait list from a school. I have also payed my deposit for the May 1 deadline. However, I am unsure of how to accept the offer. Should I withdraw from the school I payed my deposit, or should I accept the offer that was just recently given to me. In which order should I perform this?

Congrats on getting off of the waitlist at a college you want to attend. That's no small feat these days when many waitlists are bigger than the freshman class itself!

If you plan to attend the college that admitted you off the list, your first step is to accept the offer, following the instructions for doing so that the college has provided (e.g., via a Web portal, by completing a snail-mail form and enclosing a deposit, by answering an email, etc.)

Once this college (we'll call it “College #2") has confirmed receipt of your intent to enroll, you must IMMEDIATELY notify the college that received your initial deposit (“College #1). If College #2 doesn't let you know in any way that your enrollment is confirmed, you should telephone or email to double-check before withdrawing from College #1. When you withdraw from College #1, don't expect any deposit you paid to be refunded. (It can't hurt to ask, but the college is not obligated to give you your money back after May 1.)

Although you have probably heard through the grapevine that students who “double-deposit" can expect a boatload of bad karma, it doesn't count as a double-deposit if you hold off on withdrawing from your initial college until you are sure that the waitlist school has received your intent to enroll. But your karma will go downhill fast if you don't withdraw from College #1 the very second that you're certain that College #2 knows you're coming!