Admitted, but pressured to commit and deposit too soon? Tell them to go to…school

For many of you, the most stressful part of the admissions process happens AFTER you apply. First, the waiting, hoping for the thicker envelope (or the email with more megabytes), wondering how a bunch of people you don’t know can have so much to say about what you get to do next year.

So then you get an admit (I hope). Unfortunately, there are some institutions that are then going to cause you some new stress. In general, colleges and universities give you until May 1st of your senior year to make up your mind on which school you want, and ask you to submit a deposit by then. If you submit a commitment with a deposit early, it’s supposed to be refundable until May 1, and you shouldn’t miss out on any spots in housing, orientation, or registration by waiting until May 1. That gives you time to compare scholarships and aid, and hopefully visit the schools and decide which one is right for you. The May 1 date is a national agreement among colleges and universities brokered years ago by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, and one of the few policies that really and truly operates just to protect applicants.


A handful of schools (lets call then Immoral, Corrupt, and just plan Bad Universities) try to game that process. The process (you can call it a scam. Go ahead. I do) runs like this: You get, usually in your admission packet, a request for your to commit with a sizable deposit AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. There are vague threats (housing is limited, spaces in orientation are assigned in the order you deposit, you can only have this scholarship if you send us your deposit tomorrow, late depositers never get invited to the best parties freshman year), and no mention of having until May 1, or that anything is refundable.

For the most part, this stuff is a bluff. Odds are if you call the on it, they’ll give you until May 1 to deposit and promise not to mess with your housing, registration, orientation, etc. You might reference the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, and your very innocent and wholesome intention to report (very pulbicly to everybody you know) that they are in clear violation of that group’s policy. You might also mention that if they are really worth attending, they probably shouldn’t have to resort to threats in order to get you to come to their school, that if they really can’t give you time to consider options, maybe they would be more comfortable with a career selling aluminum siding.

OK, maybe that last line would be going a bit far.

Of course, Mason gives you until May 1. We do assign housing on a first come basis, but there is a free, no commitment application for housing you can fill out any time, and housing is guaranteed for all freshmen that deposit by May 1. Everyone should, if they are as confident in their schools as we are in ours. But maybe their schools are really awful. I feel so bad for them…not.

Be seeing you.