The College Search

Buyer's Remorse: Daughter Said Yes to the Wrong College

Question: It is 4 weeks before college starts and my daughter feels she has made a mistake in her college choice. She was very torn with her decision and we feel she is right. She made a choice based on what she felt we wanted and what would be better financially for us as a family, NOT the best choice for herself and her future career. The school she is set to go to does not even have the degree she has wanted to go into for forever! The school she should be going to did accept her and offer her a very nice scholarship based on her academic prowess. What do we do now! We have already said no to the university she really wants and yes to the one shes set to go to. HELP.

Your daughter should sprint to the nearest phone (probably as close by as her pocket or purse) and call the college she wants to attend.


She should first ask to speak to the staff member who oversees applicants from her high school. But, if that person isn't available, she can talk to any other admission counselor who’s handy.

She needs to spell out her situation and ask if there might still be space for her in the freshman class, along with housing (if required) and financial aid.

Right about now, many colleges experience "summer melt"—that’s when enrolled students change their minds. So it's very possible that a college that already said yes to your daughter might still have a spot for her. The housing and, especially, the money might be more problematic, but it can't hurt for your daughter to try. She can explain that she chose another school that she thought would be mean a better price-tag for her parents but realizes now that she made a mistake ... especially from the future-plans perspective.

If she is willing to enroll in the spring term, if need be, she should say this as well. The odds of a spot being available in January are even greater than in the fall, and she can take a "gap" semester--perhaps even earning some money to cover college costs--while she waits. It might not be ideal, but it beats heading off to a place she doesn't want to be.

But if there's no room (or money) for her at all in the coming year, she can either bite the bullet and go to the school she already selected, planning a transfer for fall 2013, or she can take a full gap year, reapply, and start as a freshman in September 2013.

But her first step is to make that phone call right away, or at least first-thing on Monday morning.

(posted 7/28/2012)