Deadlines to Remember

Monday is May 1. May Day. It's an important day to note for most of you high school seniors who are headed to college. It's enrollment deadline day.

I'm sure that you're aware of this, but I thought I would issue this reminder, just in case. Your senior year is rapidly coming to a close, with all of its associated activities and testing, among other personal-related issues. Sometimes deadlines like this can slip through the cracks.

The important thing to keep in mind is that even if you are still negotiating a financial aid package or are hoping for good news from a waitlist, you still need to enroll officially somewhere by May 1. As you may realize, the most selective colleges put literally thousands of students on their waitlists, so the odds of getting off of one aren't great. But, at the majority of other colleges, waitlisted students who take appropriate measures to be admitted may indeed get good news before summer.

I've written about dealing with waitlists before, where I said, in part:

“Being waitlisted at your “dream" school can be exceptionally frustrating. There's the economic aspect. You have to enroll somewhere, so you must commit to one of the schools who judged you to be clearly worthy of attending. That leads to the possibility that if your waitlist campaign is successful, you will have to withdraw your enrollment from the “bridesmaid" school where you paid your commitment deposit and, naturally, sacrifice those dollars.

“Speaking of bridesmaids, there's also the psychological aspect of being waitlisted at your dream school. If you are eventually denied, you may make the mistake of thinking about the school you do attend as being second best, a kind of consolation prize. Well, let me tell you that this is completely wrong and such a mindset will undermine your chances to have a positive, bonding experience at your school. Truth is, though, that nearly everyone who doesn't get into their first-choice college and enrolls in an “alternate" school finds that school to be a wonderful match. Things tend to work out for the best. …

“… Reacting to a waitlisting takes many forms. There is that famous example from Jacques Steinberg's book, The Gatekeepers, about the admissions process at Wesleyan University:

“Carter Bays '97 got waitlisted—and then sent the office of admissions a postcard every day for a month. Acclaimed today as the award-winning writer and producer of How I Met Your Mother, Carter Bays '97 was just an aspiring playwright from Shaker Heights, Ohio, when he applied to Wes in 1992. He got waitlisted, so he did what any other student would do: he attempted to 'prove that I am worthy of attending your school' by sending the office of admissions a new postcard every day for weeks. Office staff members began to race to the mailbox to get his latest note; eventually, they vouched for him and pushed his name to the top of the waitlist pile. At Wesleyan, he ended up becoming editor of The Ampersand; today, he's apparently really embarrassed by his articles. After he graduated, the same admissions staffers typed his name into the alumni database to check his first job. The answer: 'Staff Writer, The Late Show with David Letterman.'"

“Granted, you may not have the imagination, motivation, dedication, and patience that Carter Bays had to deal with a waitlist situation. However, there are some structured methods to deal with this situation." …

While it's a bit late to engage a waitlist campaign, especially at an elite school, there's always a chance that something good could happen if you make some kind of effort.

Even beyond the famous May 1, other deadlines loom for college-bound students, as Louis Sotelo notes:

… Here's a reminder of five deadlines seniors can't afford to miss on their quest to high school graduation and beyond.

Enrollment Deposit

Consider this deposit as the down payment on your tuition, although not all colleges apply it to tuition specifically; it may fund special freshmen programming, including orientation. This deposit secures your seat during fall classes. If you miss the deadline, be aware that you may be forfeiting financial aid as well. Often times, this deadline is May 1 for the incoming fall class and the amount can be around $250. Each college will have their own process so read the instructions carefully. If this deposit is a substantial financial burden to your family, numerous colleges offer deferment (delayed payment) or waiver options. Contact your admission office for more information about qualifying.

Housing Contract & Payment

While you are not officially moving on campus until the fall term starts, you do have to complete a housing contract and make a payment during spring of your senior year to reserve your room. Some deadlines are as early as April 1. The sooner you submit your housing information the more options you will have regarding roommates, dorm buildings, and learning communities.

New Student Orientation

To help ensure a smooth transition to college, some colleges expect you to attend a one-day experience where you may enroll in classes, meet with academic advisors, and gain a more in-depth understanding of your freshman year on campus. It's an exciting time to meet other classmates and feel like a real college student. You may be required to register for this event during spring of your senior year.

Health Forms

You know those immunization records that you and your parents have likely lost among the rubble of other papers in some hidden-away briefcase? That's what you will need to submit health forms for your college. Ensure that you are up-to-date on your immunizations and receive any that you may be missing. Some colleges may also require that you share health insurance information. You want to complete this during spring of your senior year, as well.

Final Transcript

Colleges want to know that senioritis didn't get the best of you those last couple of months. So they often require you to submit your final transcript that showcases your entire high school career. The institution wants to verify that 1. You actually graduated and 2. That you still meet the standards of admission. Believe it or not, some students do lose their admission spot if they fall short of what the college expected to see during the last semester of their senior year.

So before you decide that a class no longer matters, think again before you give up on finding a cure for senioritis.

Fair enough. Keep an eye on college paperwork and a fast-moving calendar. Parents are involved in observing deadlines, too, so don't be shy about reminding them of that.

Your college process has been a long and maybe winding road. Be sure to make all these final turns on time.


Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles at College Confidential.