You may accept college admission and be later made a more attractive offer, or a change in your life circumstances may force you to postpone college for a while. Whatever the reason, if you change your mind about going to a particular college or university after accepting, contact the admissions office as soon as possible. What happens from there will depend on whether you plan to go to a different university or want to take a gap year.
Method 1 of 2: Work the problem with the admissions office
Step 1. Contact the admissions office
As soon as possible, after you've decided that you no longer want to go to college, you should speak directly to someone in admissions. The sooner you contact them, the more options you will have.
- Some university systems, such as those in the United Kingdom and Canada, allow a seven-day period during which admission to a university can be rejected after accepting it, without negative consequences. Check if there is such a term in the place where you live.
- It is usually best to call, as the intake staff will be inundated with emails. You may want to proceed with a written letter discussing the phone call, so that there is a record. If you've already talked to someone specifically about admission, try to get in touch with them.
Step 2. Say what you want to happen
While you probably want to sound as professional and sophisticated as you can, using academic vocabulary (such as "decline" or "revoke") can be difficult. Use plain language when speaking to admissions, as those words may have specific meanings that you are not aware of.
- For example, if you've decided that you want to go to another university that has made you a better offer, or for another reason, just say so.
- If you have decided that you want to take a gap year, you may not have to decline admission. You can simply postpone or postpone it. Again, instead of using those specific words, which may have a specific meaning for that college, just say, "I want to start next fall instead of this."
Step 3. Explain why you changed your mind
Give the admissions staff a reason why you are declining college admission after you've accepted it, and be honest about that reason. The intake staff will be more willing to work with you if you are honest with them.
In some cases, being honest about your reasons for declining admission can open up other options. For example, admissions staff will usually be more willing to work with you if you have to decline admission for a reason beyond your control, such as a serious illness or an ongoing family crisis
Step 4. Thank the intake staff for their help
Even if you don't get the answer you wanted, you should be careful not to "burn" any bridges, especially if you think you might want to go to that college in the future.
If you adopt an attitude or are rude, it can spread the word about your behavior. For example, suppose you refuse admission to the "Good University" in order to go to the "Best University". If you're rude to the "Good College" admissions staff, they can call the "Best College" admissions office and tell them
Step 5. Waiver of Deposit
Many colleges and universities in the United States, and elsewhere, require you to make a deposit for first semester tuition. If you decline admission to the university, that money cannot be returned.
- Check the admission papers to see if the deposit is non-refundable. Even if it is, if you have a serious reason for refusing admission, such as a medical crisis, you may qualify for an exception.
- If possible, you should let them know that you have changed your mind about going to that college "before" you give the money for the deposit. That way you won't risk losing that money.
Method 2 of 2: Take a gap year
Step 1. Find out if the college supports taking a gap year
Sabbaticals are a common tradition in the UK and other countries, but have only recently become fashionable in the United States. If a university supports the gap year tradition, it will defer your admission until the following fall.
- A gap year allows you to postpone higher education for a year while you travel, work for a nonprofit organization, or engage in other exploratory or educational activities. When you return, you will not have to reapply to college.
- For colleges that do not support or recognize the gap year, there may be other options available to you, or you can postpone your admission for a semester.
Step 2. Get started as soon as possible
If you've decided that you want to take a year off, you usually have to let the university know that you want a postponement as soon as possible. Otherwise, the university may be less inclined to grant you the deferral.
Ultimately, you shouldn't wait until after the first tuition payment to ask for a deferral. At that stage, it can be nearly impossible for admission to be deferred
Step 3. Describe your plans for the gap year
You're not going to take a year off so you can be in your pajamas all year long watching TV. Your decision to take a gap year will be better accepted by the university if you have a row of educational activities or opportunities.
Some colleges require a complete written proposal. Check with your college to find out what requirements and expiration dates you need to be aware of
Step 4. Send a written letter to the director of admissions
Unlike rejecting admission entirely, if you want to postpone admission, please make this request in writing. The director of admissions may discuss with you the possibility of taking a year off.
- Use a business letter format. There must be a template in your text editing application. Review the text carefully. Make a copy of the letter after signing it, for your own records.
- If the university has any forms, or information, in particular that you are supposed to provide, include it in the letter.
- If you don't hear anything in a reasonable amount of time, proceed with a phone call. Typically, waiting between two to four weeks is a reasonable time, depending on how far away you are from college. If the university is in another country, please allow more time to receive a response.
Step 5. Follow up with your source of financial aid
The university can contact any source of financial aid that you have, or that may be under your responsibility. Make a quick call to make sure they don't send money to college during the gap year.