How to Decline Admission to a College | Honesty and Etiquette

Getting acceptance letters from multiple colleges is undoubtedly an achievement. But choosing one college means you have to decline admission to the rest of the colleges. You can decline admission to a college over the phone, through email, or through the admission portal of that college.

There is no universal rule on how to decline admission to a college. You need to follow the procedures instructed by the specific college. But some good practices include informing the college about the rejection.

This guide will help you understand how to decline college acceptance offers by providing the necessary guidelines. Let’s get started.

How to Decline Admission to a College
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Why Do You Need to Decline College Acceptance?

Getting a better offer is probably the happiest reason behind declining acceptance offers. But there can be other reasons too. You should decline admission to a college for the following reasons.

Acceptance Offer from the College of Top Choice

If you have applied to multiple colleges, you don’t need to always get the offer in a specific order. For example, the top college on your choice list might finally send the acceptance letter.

In the meantime, you might get acceptance offers from other colleges. So, when the most desired acceptance letter comes, you must turn down other offers.

Financial Situations May Worsen

As it takes some time for the college to finalize acceptance, your financial situation may not be the same. Steep deviations in your financials can force you to drop the acceptance offers from colleges. In some cases, you might not be able to continue your education at all.

Accommodation or Other Inconveniences

Even though you have received acceptance offers from colleges, the college campus, accommodation, commutes, and other factors might not be convenient.

And some colleges might not offer every aspect you desire. Choosing some colleges over others might be beneficial for your career track. Many students decline admission to colleges for this reason.

Related: How To Decline An Internship Offer After Accepting?

Is It Necessary to Decline Admission to a College?

Before going into the discussion of how to reject a college acceptance, you might ask if it is a must to decline admission. You aren’t legally bound to decline admission to a college.

Doing so will be helpful for yourself, the college authority, and other candidates. Also, it is considered professional and good manners.

How to Decline Admission to a College?

The declining process may not be as simple as it sounds. You need to go through several steps to decline acceptance to a college. Here is a breakdown of the steps for your convenience.

decline acceptance to a college
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1. Confirm Admission to Your Preferred College

In case you have received acceptance letters from multiple colleges, you need to choose one that best fits your needs. Before you decline other offers, make sure you can attend the preferred college. The acceptance letters usually have instructions to complete the admission process.

For example, you may need to contact the admission representative to confirm that you will attend the college. And the deposit should be made before the deadline. Once you complete all the formalities, you can proceed to the next step.

2. Don’t Wait for the Deadline to Decline

All acceptance letters have a deadline to contact the college about admission. Once you are sure about which college to attend, you don’t need to wait for the deadline for other letters. Take action as soon as possible to let the colleges know that you won’t attend the college.

Declining offers early will benefit other candidates as the college can select candidates from the waiting list.

3. Follow the Instructions for Rejection

The method of rejection won’t be the same for all colleges. Colleges usually mention the instructions for declining an offer in the acceptance letter. Sometimes, the acceptance offer can be null and void if you don’t communicate within the deadline.

You can also find the rejection instructions on the college’s admission website. Check the instructions carefully before you proceed to the next step.

4. Communicate with the Assigned Personnel

Contacting the representative of the admission committee is the best way to let the college know about the rejection. Phone calls, emails, or letters can do this. Chances are the representatives will lose your correspondence in the high volume of communications they receive daily.

So, it is better to make a phone call and verbally inform about the rejection. Then, you can follow up on your decision with a letter or email.

5. Create an Email or Letter Template

In case you need to decline admission to more than one college, creating an email/letter template will help you communicate with all of them quickly. The template should be precise and warm so that you can leave a good impression.

Though you aren’t bound to explain the rejection, mentioning specific reasons is a good gesture. For example, you can mention that you have been placed in a college you liked better. Or, the college you reject is inconvenient for you to commute to.

Always be polite while writing an email or letter of rejection. You should thank the admission representative for offering the acceptance. Tell them you are grateful to have the offer but compelled to decline it.

If you received help from anyone during the application process, don’t forget to mention that. Be courteous throughout your communication.

6. Submit Email or Letter Through the Proper Channel

Once the letter or email is ready, you need to submit it through the right channel. Check the acceptance letter or college website to figure out to whom you need to submit the letter.

In some cases, the college might contact you through a phone call. They will try to collect more information about the rejection to improve the admission process.

Read: Is Graduating Early Worth It?

Email/Letter Templates to Decline College Admission

If you aren’t sure what to write in the rejection letter or email, below is a standard template. You can modify it to give a personal touch.

Date: …………..
Dear ………..,
I want to address the acceptance letter regarding admission to ………………… (College Name) for the …………………….. (Program Name). Thank you so much for offering acceptance. I like to thank …………………..(any individual you communicated with or got help from) for the time and support.

After weighing all the available options, I chose to attend ……………….. (College name where you will attend) for the ………………………. (Program name). So, I am declining the offer of acceptance from your college with due respect.

Thank you for the offer again.

——————— (Your name)

Why Should You Inform the College About Declining Admission?

Letting a college know that you will not attend is important for several reasons. We picked some of the top reasons here.

Inform College About Declining Admission
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It Reflects Your Professionalism and Courtesy

Even if you don’t want to get admitted into a college, you should let them know out of professionalism. It shows you aren’t negligent, even about the smallest aspects of life. And it is a general courtesy to let someone know you won’t show up.

It Prevents Future Barriers

You might not get admitted to a college right now. But who knows if you need to get admitted to that college at some point in the future? Even if you aren’t admitted to the college, you might need to communicate or work with faculty or other officials.

In such cases, you don’t want to leave a bad impression that leads to barriers in future communications.

It Is Helpful for Other Candidates

If you speak about the rejection, it helps the college authority to select candidates from the waiting list. The sooner you let them know, the faster they can fill the seat with waiting candidates.

The College Authority Can Rectify the Admission Process

When you mention the reasons behind your rejection, the college authority can take the necessary steps to rectify the admission process. As a result, future admissions will be much smoother.


Check answers to commonly asked questions about declining admission to a college.

Can I Decline Admission to a College After Accepting?

You can choose not to attend college from the day you receive the acceptance letter to the day you graduate. So, even if you accept the offer from one college, you can decline it later. But it is always better to decline as soon as possible.

Can I Decline Early Decision Admissions?

For most colleges, early decision offers are binding. The nature of early decision applications is applicants gets a response faster than the usual admission process. If they are sure about the college choice and drop all the other options, early decision applicants can easily get accepted to the college.

Those applying for early decisions must attend the college if they are accepted. It means you can’t decline the offer once you receive it. Still, you can contact the college authority to figure out a solution should any emergencies arrive.


At the joy of getting offers of acceptance from multiple colleges, many candidates forget to notify the colleges that they won’t attend. This is a bad practice and can limit your chances of attending that college again in the future.

We showed how to decline admission to a college in a few simple steps. Follow these steps to take prompt action and let the college know you are declining the offer. ‘

Show politeness, and gratefulness to the college authorities for giving you acceptance letters.

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