What Does a College Acceptance Letter Say? Expert Guide


Whereas fall means college application season, spring means admission notifications time. All high school seniors want to get a college acceptance letter to their top-choice school. But what exactly does an admittance letter look like? And what does it say?

In this article, we go over what information a typical college acceptance letter includes and show you real college acceptance letter samples so you can get an idea of what they look like. We also give you our top four tips for what to do after you get an admittance letter.


What Does a College Acceptance Letter Say?

A typical college acceptance letter usually says exactly what you’d expect it to say: that you've been admitted to the school and offered a place in the incoming class.

Most of the time, a college acceptance letter will get straight to the point: it’ll start off clear and congratulatory so you’ll have no doubt about whether or not you’ve been admitted.

Below are examples of the types of words and phrases commonly used in the first paragraph of an admittance letter:

  • "Congratulations!"
  • "I am delighted to inform you that you have been admitted to …"
  • "We are pleased to inform you that you have been admitted to …"
  • "We are pleased/happy to offer you admission to ... "
  • "It is my/our pleasure to offer you admission to …"
  • "It is with great pleasure that I/we offer you admission to …"

Naturally, there’s a lot of variation with the phrases here, but the examples above are fairly representative of what you’ll see in the opening of a college acceptance letter.

After the paragraph containing the offer of admission, you'll typically get a couple of sentences (which are really just compliments) about how your application stood out, how competitive the applicant pool was this year, and/or how you should be proud of yourself for getting in.

The next paragraph or two will vary depending on the school. Many colleges inform admitted applicants of an admittees-only event on campus, which is usually a weekend similar to freshman orientation. These events teach you more about the campus and what kinds of opportunities and support the school offers; they also encourage you to attend the school.

The ending paragraphs in a typical college acceptance letter give you details about the deadline by which you must make and submit your college decision (i.e., whether or not you’ll be attending the school). This deadline is almost always May 1. By that point, you should have gotten admissions decisions from all the schools you've applied to (unless you’ve been waitlisted somewhere and are waiting to see whether you’ll get off the waitlist).

This is just the gist of what you can expect a college acceptance letter to say. But what exactly does an admittance letter look like?


4 Real College Acceptance Letter Samples

Now that we’ve gone over what a typical admittance letter says, you’re probably wondering what this letter can look like.

We’ve published four real college acceptance letter samples for you to look at. These show you what acceptance letters look like overall, how they’re often worded and organized, and what kind of information they generally include.

Click the links below to see each college acceptance letter sample and to learn more about what these top colleges say to admitted applicants:

Oftentimes, after you receive an admittance letter, you'll get subsequent letters from the school giving you more information on admittees-only events, how to submit your decision, and so on. Click here to see a real follow-up letter to a college acceptance letter from NYU.




When Can You Expect a College Acceptance Letter?

These days, most colleges will first and sometimes only notify applicants of their admissions decisions electronically, either through an online portal or by email. That said, most colleges will also follow up their online offer with a formal college acceptance letter that is mailed directly to the applicant.

When you can expect to hear back from colleges regarding your admission decisions can vary. The vast majority of colleges get back to applicants with their admission decisions by the first week of April, with many releasing their decisions in mid- to late March.

If you applied early action or early decision to a school, you’ll most likely hear back in December, January, or February.

For more info about when you can expect to receive an admissions decision, check out our guide to when college acceptance letters arrive.



Got a College Admittance Letter? 4 Steps to Take Next

If you’ve gotten a college acceptance letter, congratulations! You've just been admitted to a college you applied to—a great accomplishment. Once you've celebrated a little, though, what should you do next? Here are four critical steps to take after you get a college acceptance letter.


Step 1: Wait for Any Other Decision Notifications to Arrive

Most students apply to multiple colleges at once, so even if you’ve received one college acceptance letter, it’s a good idea to wait to make your decision about where to go for college until after you’ve gotten all the admissions decisions from the colleges you applied to.

This means that you should expect to wait, latest, until the first week of April, as most colleges should have sent out (electronically, by mail, or both) their decision notifications by this time.

The only exception to this rule is if the school from which you got your college acceptance letter is your top choice. In this case, you already know you for sure want to attend this school, so go right on ahead to Step 3!


Step 2: Choose a College to Attend

Once you've gotten responses from all the colleges you applied to, it’s time to tally your results. You obviously can’t attend any colleges you’ve been rejected at, so this leaves you with only the schools you’ve been admitted to and waitlisted at.

You now have to make an important decision: of the colleges you’ve been accepted at, which one do you want to attend the most? In other words, where do you see yourself thriving?

If you're struggling to decide, ask yourself what you’re looking for in terms of the school campus, academics/majors, extracurriculars, overall atmosphere, location, cost, etc. We offer more tips in our guide on how to choose the best college for you.


Step 3: Confirm Your Spot and Submit Your Deposit

After you’ve figured out which college you want to attend, it’s time to confirm your spot in the new freshman class. To do this, you’ll usually need to fill out a form and return it to the college letting them know you intend to enroll in the fall.

The deadline for your response will most likely be May 1, so be sure to contact your chosen college by this date. At this time, you should also submit your non-refundable deposit to the college. This college tuition deposit ensures you’ll have a spot in the new class.

Note that this deposit may not be refunded under any circumstances, even if you change your mind or get admitted off the waitlist for a different college you’d rather attend.




Step 4: Decline Your Admission Offers From Other Colleges

Once you accept your offer of admission to your top-choice school, it's time to decline any other offers of admission you received. All you'll typically have to do is fill out a form letting the school know whether you intend to enroll. Again, this usually needs to be done by May 1.


Recap: What to Know About the College Acceptance Letter

If you’ve been accepted to a college, you’ll receive a college acceptance letter from that school, most likely at first electronically and then later as a hard copy in the mail.

Most college decisions are released in the spring, typically no later than the first week of April. However, if you applied early action/early decision, you can expect to hear back in either December, January, or February.

If you’ve received an admittance letter, that’s wonderful! Once you’ve finished celebrating, it’s time to figure out the next steps to take. First, you'll need to wait to hear back from all the colleges you applied to, as you might get accepted to other schools as well. After you’ve heard back, it’s time to make a decision about where you want to go for college.

Once you’ve decided, you must confirm your enrollment at the school you've chosen, usually by May 1. You’ll also need to submit a non-refundable tuition deposit. Around this time, you can get started on declining any other acceptances you received from colleges.


What’s Next?

You know what a college acceptance letter looks like—but exactly when will your decision notification arrive? Check out our guide to college acceptance letter arrival dates to learn more.

In order to snag an admittance letter to a college, you need to have a great application. Get tips on how to put together a great college application and learn how to estimate your chances of admission with our college acceptance calculator.

Aiming for the Ivy League? Our expert guide explains how you, too, can get accepted to Harvard, Princeton, and more!



Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
About the Author
author image
Hannah Muniz

Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.

Ask a Question Below

Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply!