How to Withdraw Your College Application
You entered the college admissions crucible in Fall 2022 as an “applicant” and emerged as an “accepted student.” This glorious metamorphosis deserves to be met with excessive celebration. It’s a time to ceremoniously put down a deposit at the college of your dreams, purchase an obscene amount of clothing bearing your school’s colors and crest, and begin resisting the urge to let senioritis fully overrun your academic immune system. Amidst the ecstasy and exaltations of the moment, it’s easy to overlook the mundane tasks that still lie before you. One such task involves notifying the unlucky institutions who will not have the fortune of being graced with your presence next fall. Then you can check “withdraw college application” off of your to-do list.
Communicating your intentions to the schools to which you have applied and/or been accepted but will not be attending is not nearly as fun as slapping a bumper sticker on your mom’s car or shopping for dorm accessories. However, it is an essential chore to squeeze in around these more exciting celebratory activities.
Reasons for canceling an application
Let’s begin by reviewing all of the conceivable reasons why someone would need to cancel applications:
- You were an ED admit at another college.
- You were an EA admit at another college and have decided to attend.
- You are no longer interested in a particular college where you applied.
- The financial aid package offered was not large enough to cover costs.
- You’ve received all college decisions and made your selection.
As you can see, some students will be doing this before the winter holidays following an EA/ED decision while others will be withdrawing applications in the spring.
Withdraw through the application portal
If this option exists, you should be able to withdraw your application online in a matter of moments. Some schools provide simple instructions for how students can withdraw an application. For example, Northeastern asks students to log into their school account and fill out a “decline admission” form. Drexel University applicants are instructed to log into Discover Drexel and select the “I want to withdraw my application” option.
Harvard, on the other hand, allows you to withdraw through their application portal or write an email to the admissions office following specific guidelines.
What if I can’t find how to withdraw my application?
If students can’t withdraw their application through their application portal, and no specific instructions are easily found, we recommend that students contact their assigned admissions counselor by e-mail and include the following info:
- Full name
- Full address
- Assigned application ID (if applicable)
- Application type (freshman or transfer)
- Application term
Application withdrawal – Why it’s important
Promptly notifying the schools that you will not be attending is more than just a courteous thing to do. It is also an essential step in helping to keep the larger college ecosystem thriving. Institutions are frantically trying to calculate their yield rate—the percentage of accepted students that will attend—and need this information ASAP so they know how many students to admit. On a more relatable level, somewhere in the world, there is a flesh-and-blood teenager just like you, whose admissions fate at their number one choice depends on you completing this simple task. Taking a few minutes to withdraw your application will set off a massive celebration in another applicant’s home. Who wouldn’t want that positive karma?
Can I put down multiple deposits?
We receive this question from time-to-time from parents/students who have a) still not decided among their top choices, or b) are still negotiating a better financial aid package. Our answer is always a simple one—no.
Putting down multiple deposits is unethical. This is because you are essentially forcing two or more schools to reserve a spot for you when, in truth, you will only be attending one. This hurts the university, as it hinders their ability to accurately predict enrollment. It also hurts applicants on the waitlist at those schools since you are essentially falsely occupying a spot that could otherwise belong to them.
Key Takeaways – withdraw application
- Whether during the early or regular admissions cycle, most applicants will eventually find themselves needing to withdraw their application from one or more colleges.
- Many schools explicitly state the directions for withdrawal.
- A fair number of colleges do not post clear instructions for withdrawing an application. In this case, use our template above.
- Taking a moment to withdraw your applications is part of being a responsible citizen in the world of college admissions. Your cancellation will help both the college and a fellow applicant who desperately wants to attend that school.
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).
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