What is in a letter of acceptance?
A college acceptance letter is a document that a college or university issues when you have applied and successfully secured admission to study a particular tertiary programme - whether that be a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
Today, most schools opt to issue these letters of acceptance in both hard and soft copy - meaning that you may well likely receive a digital letter before a physical copy arrives. Some colleges, instead, will rely on their own internal portal to issue updates on your application.
While college and university applications are typically a long process, securing your admission is usually only the first step in your study journey.
Your letter of admission will typically contain a confirmation of your admission and acceptance, but will also include next steps for you to follow. These can include helpful sign-in credentials for you to access an online profile, but these letters will most likely instead communicate details and deadlines around what tuition fees are payable as you approach your course’s start date.
A typical letter of acceptance may include:
- A confirmation of your admission
- Your course’s start date and physical location
- Admission or service fees payable
- Scholarship or bursary information
- Residence advice
What do colleges look for in a student?
While your academic record will likely be the first priority for a college admissions board to review, there are several other factors which colleges may look for in a student applicant.
These can include:
- Your academic record (as well as extracurricular activities)
- Course or degree-related work experience
- Standardised test scores
- Recommendations and letters of referral
- Your social media presence
- Your letters of motivation
- Supplementary information or submissions
How long does it take to get accepted into college?
While the turnaround time for a decision to be made on your application may vary from college to college, you will traditionally be able to expect a decision - and a letter of acceptance - to be issued on your application from four to eight weeks after you have successfully submitted your application.
When do colleges send acceptance letters?
The date when a particular college may send acceptance letters will largely depend on their location and the annual structure of their curriculum.
Generally, many colleges have rolling application periods that will offer a final deadline to submit, depending on whether students would begin classes in September or at the start of the year in January or February.
Typically, most colleges will issue acceptance letters either following the latest deadline, or may often fulfil an early-application window which will enable some students to register for admission up to a year in advance.
Can I use my acceptance letter for a scholarship?
While each scholarship process will depend on the benefactor in question, most scholarship programmes generally require applicants to submit an acceptance letter to ultimately begin or finalise their funding application.
While most scholarship programmes will require student applicants to submit at least notice of their application to a particular or supported college, others may require a proof of admission prior to finalising their decision on whether to issue a scholarship or not in the first instance.
Generally, it is a good idea to retain a receipt or proof of payment for your non-refundable deposit, as well as your letters of application or admission, when applying for a scholarship.
Can you commit to two colleges?
While it is theoretically possible to secure two admissions by putting down a financial deposit for both, doing so is considered unethical - particularly if you have applied for full-time programmes. Doing so can not only mean that you will ultimately forfeit your deposit for at least one of your applications, but would deprive another candidate of a space in the course that you do not plan to attend.
How many colleges can you apply to?
The most ethical approach is to apply to as many programmes as you are interested in, but ultimately only select one final college to which you will submit your non-refundable deposit and ultimately attend.
How many colleges should I apply for?
You can ultimately apply to as many colleges as you prefer, though it is in your best interest to make your decisions selectively given you may be required to pay a deposit for your application in advance.
When do you have to commit to a college?
You should ideally seek to commit to a college at least three months before your courses’ intended start date. For universities based in the United States, it is recommended that you commit to a college by at least May 1st.
How to respond to a college acceptance by email
If you’ve decided to confirm your acceptance to college - congratulations!
Your first step will need to be to issue any non-refundable deposits that are required to secure your application. You’ll want to retain your proof of payment or receipt to verify the transaction (if needed) in the future.
Some colleges may alternatively require you to issue your proof of payment or receipt alongside a special form (usually in PDF format) which confirms your attendance. Others, however, may require you to individually notify course convenors or your college’s administrative office by email with your receipt or proof of payment attached.
Responding by email can be useful, as it can not only demonstrate your intent to enrol but can further illustrate your communication skills and gratitude.
In your email, be sure to acknowledge your confirmation of acceptance, state your intention to enrol, and thank your recipient(s) for their time.
College email acceptance template example:
Subject: Confirmation of my attendance at [College Name]
I have recently received a letter of acceptance from [College Name], and I am thankful and most pleased to accept this offer of admission.
I have attached [relevant forms] as well as a [proof of payment/receipt] for [fees due].
I thank you sincerely for this opportunity and look forward to beginning my classes in due course.
How to decline a college acceptance
If you instead decide against securing your attendance at a particular college, it is etiquette to communicate your decision to a relevant admissions official or office to enable their department to allocate your provisional space to another candidate.
To do so, you may similarly be required to submit a form, or may simply need to express your intent via email.
You could use the below template to communicate your decision:
Subject: Declining my offer of attendance at [College Name]
I have recently received a letter of acceptance from [College name], and I am thankful for this offer of admission.
However, I unfortunately will need to decline this opportunity [in favour of another acceptance or for personal reasons]
I thank you sincerely for your efforts and time in reviewing my application and I wish both you and your department prosperity into the future.
What to do with your letter of acceptance?
Once you’ve successfully received your letter of acceptance and have responded to your college to secure your study spot, you will officially have secured your enrollment to progress your studies.
Your acceptance letter from a university can also be used for a variety of other purposes to assist your study journey. You may be able to use it as a reference to join various student societies or interest organisations aligned to your study subject, or alternatively use it to apply or secure a scholarship or student loan.
Prodigy Finance provides loans to international students pursuing their masters at top schools across the globe. If you’ve already secured your attendance at a college and course we support, you can easily apply for funding.
We support 1135 schools, 356 universities in 20 countries. Some of the schools that we support:
- American University: School of International Service
- American University: School of Public Affairs
- Arizona State University: Thunderbird School of Global Management
- Stevens Institute of Technology: School of Systems and Enterprises
Find a school that suits you.
If you have yet to apply, you can also use our Where Can I Study tool to explore all the latest courses and colleges that we support.