Admissions Update: I've got an offer! Now what?

Stauffer Library on a fall's day

Back in September, when the first article in this series was published, my son was just beginning first-year studies at Queen’s. I’m not sure where the time has gone. We’ve weathered last fall’s mid-terms and then exams in December. Now the winter term has ended, he has written final exams, and is now working at a summer job.

Back in the fall, I wrote about how to choose which universities to apply to, and, as I write this, our office has nearly finished making offers of admission for the 2009-2010 school year. Summer is almost here, the Class of 2009 has graduated, and the Class of 2013 is already gearing up for Orientation in September. My, how time flies!

I’m sure there are many of you with a young person in your life who’s checking the mail each day to see if there are offers from the universities to which he or she has applied. Others of you will be poring over all the information that came with all of those offers. (“They said they want me! Now what?”)

Having multiple offers is great.

We're in an enviable position, here in Canada, as each of our universities has its strengths, and all of them offer fantastic programs.

This can make choosing the one that’s right for your son or daughter very difficult. Remember all that research I said you should do last fall? It’s time to get it out and to remember what it was that made those schools seem right for an application. Perhaps the best thing you can do – if possible – is to visit each campus and get a good feel for them. This will help you decide which one is the right “fit.” Remember, choosing a university to attend is like buying a pair of shoes your child will wear for four years. You’d better like it, and it had better feel just right.

One of the most common questions we hear is this: “I’ve already said ‘yes’ to another school and then I got an offer of admission from my first-choice university. Can I change my mind?” The answer is yes. And if you’ve applied to an Ontario university, it’s just a matter of accepting the new offer of admission online.

It’s important to check the conditions of any offer. Typically the student needs to maintain a certain average in order for the offer to stand (most schools are very serious about this). There may also be a requirement that final transcripts and documents be submitted by a certain deadline. Keep an eye on the dates, and make sure you meet all the deadlines and conditions.

When the answer from your chosen university or program is “No”, it may feel like the end of the world, but I can assure you it isn’t. It’s an opportunity to go back and look at your research again and, perhaps, choose another program or school. Or maybe the best option is for your child to do a “victory lap” and upgrade his or her high school qualifications. If that’s the choice, though, just be sure to find out how repeated courses are treated. Each university and program is different.

If your child has an offer of admission and is ready to accept it, what should you do next to get ready for September?

The first step in this direction is to make sure you accept the offer of admission by the required date. It’s not the same for all schools. People sometimes forget that they need to say, “Yes, I accept your offer of admission.” After you do so, the university will provide direction regarding residence and housing, financing, registration, fees, course information and any other next steps.

Trust me. If you’re a parent, September will come before you know it, and you’ll find yourself with a happy, excited teenager in the family, one who’s about to begin a new phase of his or her life. And you can be secure in the knowledge that all that hard work has led to the best outcome possible, whatever that may be.

Next on your To-Do List? Turn that new spare room into the home office that you’ve always wanted.

Reach Stuart Pinchin, Artsci’78. 



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