May 1 is the biggest milestone date in the admission year, both for the applicants and for the colleges. From whatever perspective you experience May 1- student, parent, counselor, Admission dean- we probably all agree that it couldn’t come too soon.
For us college admission folks, it’s on May 1 that we know if our efforts for the year have been successful. We are truly on pins and needles throughout April, after we communicate all the admission decisions, all the way until May 1. I often tell students that as difficult as they find waiting to hear from us, we are at least as anxious waiting to hear from them. We count the new deposits every day, compare our tallies to the same day a year ago and to our projections (and hopes) for this year, while everywhere we go across campus, everyone asks, “How does it look?” In a very real way, the academic and fiscal health of the university depend on May 1.
For the students (and their parents and counselors), the finality of May 1 can be daunting. It’s easier to be thinking about a range of schools and considering several exciting possibilities than it is choose the ONE school to attend. Most students end up with at least a few and often several very attractive and exciting acceptances. Saying, “No, thanks” to all but one can be harder than saying yes to the one.
In a few weeks, this anxious energy will recede, and the colleges will be touting the qualities of the new class and focusing on all the preparations for their arrival. The students will be making their preparations, too, once finals, prom and graduation are over. All these “rites of passage” are firmly entrenched in the mindsets and experience of American youth, not least packing up and heading off to college and the exciting and sometimes scary new responsibilities and independence that go along with it.
Right now, though, I’m waiting for our count of May 1 deposits, and remembering that this day is an annual rite of passage in most every admission office across the country. The students hold the final choice in this long college selection exercise, and I’m anxious to hear from them.