Do you really have until May 1 to decide?

Students accepted for fall admission are supposed to have until May 1 to decide between the colleges that accepted them (unless you were admitted under a binding early decision program).  And yet some colleges seem to imply in their acceptance letters that waiting until that date could leave you shut out of housing options, classes, or even space in the class altogether.  So do you really have until May 1 to decide?

First, you should know that all colleges that are members of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling agree to follow the Statement of Principles of Good Practice which says clearly that, unless you are accepted in a binding early decision program, the college will:


So yes, unless explicitly stated otherwise, you have until May 1 to make up your mind.  If a college implies or outright says that waiting until May 1 could somehow be detrimental, don’t let it scare you into making a decision sooner than you’re ready.  Instead, call the admissions office and politely ask for clarification.  If you don’t get a straight answer, ask your counselor to call for you. This decision is too important to make in a hurry or without all the right information.

In return, you need to do the right thing, too, and…

1. Reply to all your colleges by May 1, including those you decide not to attend (so they know the spot they offered you can now go to someone else).

2. Only place a deposit at one school.  You don’t get to plunk multiple deposits down at more than one school so you can buy more time after May 1 to decide.