How to tell a college you won’t be attending

If you’re a senior choosing the college you will attend next fall, you might not have considered this question: How do you tell the other colleges who accepted you that you won’t be attending?

You have three options here:

1. Say nothing.
Please don’t do this. Yes, a college will eventually surmise that you won’t be attending when they don’t hear word (or receive a deposit) from you. But admissions officers are under a lot of pressure to manage the enrollment numbers for their freshman classes. Also, the sooner you share your plans, the sooner a student on the college’s waitlist can get the news they’ve been eagerly waiting for. And it’s just the right thing to do.

2. Send a simple two-sentence email (and use it for all of the colleges you won’t be attending).
This is much better than #1 and will score you some good karma points.

3. Or you could do what admissions veteran and college counselor Parke Muth suggests here.
Write the college a real email, thank them for their offer, and explain where you’ve decided to attend. Like #2, it’s the right thing to do. But this one is just classier and even offers the possibility of coming back to help you in the future.