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Congratulations! After hours spent trawling the Web, poring over books and catalogs, taking tests, visiting campuses, filling out stacks of paperwork, writing and rewriting your application essay, and, last but not least, keeping up your grades — you're done! All that's left to do now is to wait and see about college acceptance.

The college admission letter

Hopefully, the mailbox will be overstuffed with large envelopes bearing good news and thick admission packets. More than one good offer and you'll be able to pick and choose which campus will be blessed with your presence. Skinny, lonely looking college admission letters filled with a single piece of letterhead from your preferred school will not bode well, but you won't know for sure until you open it.

If you've been accepted, here's what you'll find (or can expect to follow shortly behind the skinny, lonely acceptance letter which made your heart jump into your throat).

Notification about the admission decision

The first sentence usually tells it all about the admissions decision — the school is either happy to extend an offer of admission to you, or they are regrettably declining to accept you. If you've been accepted, keep reading! The rest of the letter isn't just words of praise, it's very likely instructions for the next list of things you need to do to cement your enrollment and get everything put into place for your arrival.

College acceptance follow-up tasks

Scan for deadlines by which you must respond with your acceptance of enrollment. Look for additional forms to fill out and return, and deadlines for those as well. You'll very likely need to have your final high school transcript sent to your new college; check for a due date for this too and work with your high school guidance counselor to ensure it happens.

You may need to submit a deposit, so make sure you and/or your parents are aware of the amounts due and when the school requires them. Your college acceptance paperwork may also include information about housing, meal plans and freshmen orientation, and all the forms and deadlines for those things as well. Get organized and make sure you read everything!

When the admission decision is over

While all this information may be included with your college admission letter, it also may not arrive right away. Don't fret, it's on its way and you'll soon be able to dive into another mountain of paperwork — but remember, this is happy paperwork now and you are glad to be filling it out! There will probably be more too, since in most cases, information about your financial aid awards will arrive separately.

Hopefully your college admission letters, whether thick or thin, contains exciting news. Just be sure to take the time to breathe...then read and reread everything your college has provided. And make sure you include your parents. Missing a deadline or overlooking a requirement now and jeopardizing your enrollment would be a huge bummer. If you have any questions at all, your new alma mater will be happy to answer them — after all, you're part of the family now!

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