Can You Change Your College Decision After May 1?

change your college decision

Editor’s Note: With the current coronavirus pandemic, many students are wondering what to do in regard to the May 1 deadline. We’ve addressed those concerns here:

After years of planning, months of applications, weeks of college visits, and waiting for those emails to come through before April 1, you’ve finally chosen a college. You’ve put down a deposit and you’re going to FarAway University. But… is another school still hanging out in the back of your head? Are you worried you made the wrong choice? And most importantly… are you even able to change your college decision after May 1?

What You Can Do

First, is it “legal” to switch schools after putting down a deposit? Well, it’s not illegal. You’re not going to get arrested. Admissions offices know that their yield (read about that term here) will “melt” over the summer. That means the number that they accept for Early Decision (yes, even ED) and Regular Decision will decrease. That decrease can happen for financial reasons, grades, other personal issues, or yes, a change of mind.

The first thing to do is call the admissions office of the school lurking in the back of your head (let’s call it Subconscious School) and see if there’s any possible way you can reclaim the spot you gave up when you accepted FarAway University. Sometimes, if Subconscious didn’t make their yield target, they will find a way to help you. If they did make their target, you’re probably out of luck. But you won’t know until you call.

Be polite and apologetic. Explain the reasons why you’re reconsidering: Better facilities, major ranking, student body diversity, even gut feelings.

Concurrently, you need to talk to your family. They’ve been riding this rollercoaster with you, and you need to talk this out. Tell them you might need to change your college decision, and ask them to help you weigh the two schools. Tell them from the beginning that, financially, you might be out your admissions deposit and any other spot-securing money. Admissions deposits are non-refundable, but in the long run, isn’t losing that money the best option? Be honest and open.

RELATED: What Happens When You Back Out of Early Decision Offers

You’re a person. People change their minds. In fact, this happened to my student, and my family. And we all got through it, for the better.

Transfer or Make The Most Of It

So, maybe Subconscious University is very apologetic but is full up for the year. There’s two things you can do from this point forward.

First, you can realign your brain. Read up on FarAway and remember why you chose it in the first place. Reconnect with it. It might end up being your dream university in the end. Breathe and move forward.

On the other hand, you can start considering transferring after your first year of university. Coming up with a game plan for this huge task before you’ve even matriculated at FarAway is daunting, but if you’re committed to NOT being there, figure out the easiest path to get to the university you want. You might need to tailor classes and/or majors. Talk with transfer admissions professionals at Subconscious and get (yet another) college admissions plan together.

You might even want to consider withdrawing from FarAway and doing a year at a community college. This version 2.1 plan would be financially very affordable, and community colleges will work with you to move to a four-year institution.

But we recommend giving FarAway a year first.

Be Human

Lastly, don’t forget that everyone changes their minds. You’re no different than you were a few months ago, and college decisions are difficult. Stress can make rational people weird. It’s ok.

So be human. If you can change your college decision, and it feels right in your head and heart, do it. If you can’t, either make peace with the path you’re on, or begin a plan to move, either through transferring or from a community college.

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