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How to Decline Acceptance to College

by Kori Morgan, studioD

At the end of a long year of deadlines, applications, essays and lots of waiting, finally knowing where you're going to college can be a huge relief. If you've been accepted at other schools, though, you still need to notify them of your decision not to attend. You can decline acceptance to college professionally and tactfully by knowing the school's deadlines and policies and writing a graceful, positive letter.

Respond Promptly

Colleges have different deadlines for when they expect you to accept or decline an offer. However, it's proper etiquette to notify the schools of your decision as soon as you have made up your mind. Although you've decided to not attend a particular school, there may still be students on the waiting list who would like to have your spot. Letting the school know immediately can help admissions offices make additional offers.

Know the School's Policy

Along with deadlines, different universities also have preferences for how they want you to respond to their offers. Some may include a postcard to mail back with your decision, while others want you to respond through the school's website or email the admissions office. Following directions will ensure that they receive your letter and note your response. Even if the school does not specify a method of response, you should still send a brief letter or email informing them of your decision.

Be Professional

Your letter should be formatted like any professional correspondence, including your name and address, the date and the school's name and address prior to the body of the letter. The message does not have to be long or detailed, but should thank the admissions committee for their invitation and state that after careful consideration, you have chosen to accept another school's offer. If you worked with a specific admissions counselor throughout the application process, you may want to address your letter to that person and thank him for his help.

Don't Apologize

You may be tempted to feel guilty for turning down the college's offer. However, there's no need to apologize for your decision to decline. University admissions committees go through the application process every year and receive lots of letters just like yours. They understand that the application process is challenging and that you have a hard decision to make. If you follow their instructions for declining and do so in a timely manner, they will appreciate your efforts and wish you the best.

About the Author

Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.

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