Breaking up with your college admissions counselors

Have you ever had to break up with someone? It can be difficult to tell someone who cares about you that you no longer want to be in a relationship. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but they haven’t gotten your hints that you’ve moved on. Many times it is less about the person you are breaking up with and more about you. College decisions aren’t much different.

By now you have likely made your decision to attend the college that seems to be the best option for you. It’s an exciting time to consider your future and plan for what is ahead. You’ve sent in your deposit to your first choice school and you are relieved that the process is over.  You may think you’re done, but there is one step you may be forgetting. Let me encourage you to finish well and communicate with the schools you didn’t choose.

As a college admission counselor, I know what’s coming. Some of the students I have grown to care about will choose to attend other schools. I have gotten to know you through your interview, essay, phone conversations and we may even be friends on Facebook, but I know that not every student that applied to my school is going to decide to attend. It can get real discouraging when you stop taking my calls or stop responding to my emails after all the conversations we’ve had. I’d suggest you be upfront and spend a little time “breaking up” with the schools you didn’t choose.

Here are a few tips for having those conversations:

  1. Call your counselor(s) -This conversation is better to have voice to voice. If you don’t have a direct contact at a school call the admissions office. If you can’t get anyone on the phone, a voicemail or email are other options.
  2. Be direct – Tell the person you are talking to that you have selected another school and you would like to cancel your application.
  3. Offer feedback (bad and good) – If they ask questions, try to answer. At Jessup we like to have a little more information so that we know what we can improve on for future students. We might ask what school you selected and why you picked them. This will help us know if we could make any changes to help other students. If you have something nice to say, say it. If you had a great experience with a counselor, tour guide, overnight stay, we love to hear that stuff. Let the counselor down easy and share something positive.
  4. Transferring? If you might interested in attending the school in the future, say so. You may have decided that it would be best to attend a community college first and then transfer. This would be good information for your counselor to know. They may be able to help you select classes that will transfer or suggest ways to maximize your financial aid in the future. They can also leave you on the mailing list so that you receive important information for transfer students.

The college representatives you have these conversations with might be heartbroken for a little while, but it’s always better to hear the news from you directly. So pick up the phone, get your best break up lines ready and tell the schools you didn’t choose that you’ve moved on.  Everyone will get the closure they need. The old line, “I just want us to be friends” probably doesn’t work in this case but we do want the best for you. As a counselor at a Christian college I believe that God directs students to the right campus community so it’s hard to be upset when a student follows that lead. I can say first hand that college admission counselors are truly happy for you when you’ve found the right school.

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