College Planning

A Guide to College Acceptance Letters

Receiving a college acceptance letter is one of the most exciting times for students in the college admissions process. In this post, we break down what these acceptance letters are, when you would expect one from a school, and next steps you can take. 


What is a college acceptance letter?

A college acceptance letter is an official notification from a college or university that informs the prospective student that the school has evaluated their application and has granted them admission to their institution.


Is a college acceptance letter the same as a decision notification?

Yes, they are the same and can be used interchangeably. Keep in mind that schools prefer to use the term “decision notification” when looking up their policy on informing prospective students of their admission status.


How do students receive college acceptance letters?

Students usually receive acceptance letters through traditional mail, email, or as an update on your college application portal set up by the college. When applying to schools, keep track of how the school handles this process.


When do students receive college acceptance letters?

Most students who apply regular decision receive acceptance letters between mid-March and mid-April. Students who apply Early Decision typically receive their notification in December or January.


What if a student hasn’t received any acceptance letters?

There are a few options for students who haven’t received any college acceptance letters.

If the student is waitlisted and wants to see if they can still get into the school of their choice, they should take the steps laid out in this resource on what to do if you're waitlisted.

If the student received no acceptance letters from colleges, they should check out these options.


For next steps after receiving College Acceptance Letters, visit the After You’ve Applied section on BigFuture® for more resources.