A Higher Offer: When Should I Wait To Commit To A College?

To commit to a college is to give a verbal agreement before the official collegiate signing period. In high school, every year seniors look forward to May 1 as an informal commencement of the college applications season. Continue reading to know more about it.

TCM Staff

5th May 2020

Before we dive deep into the topic let us first learn what is meant to commit to a college. To commit to a college is to give a verbal agreement before the official collegiate signing period.

In high school, every year seniors look forward to May 1 as an informal commencement of the college applications season. It is the day that decisions are due back to colleges, and the decisions have to be taken by the students to commit to the colleges. Many colleges often vie candidates, after they take the decision,  even after this deadline has passed. Many colleges offer promises which are uncertain and unclear and remind about the possibility of higher financial benefit packages available.

It might be a challenging situation if you are a high school student since you are stuck in this dilemma of whether you should commit to a college before May 1st. You might be fascinated to get an offer from a school that provides better financial aid or a better offer. 

Here we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of waiting for a better offer. and we will provide some insight towards how to make your choice if another college reaches out to you — even after you’ve committed somewhere else. These complicated issues are bound to become more common over the years to come, so do not miss this important insight.

Pros and Cons of waiting to commit to a college

There is always 2 sides of a coin. Similarly, there will be pros as well as cons of waiting to commit to a college. Let us discuss the pros and cons below.

Pros of waiting to commit to a college

The deadline stated by colleges is mostly May 1st. Here are some advantages listed for waiting to commit to a college.


  •  Early commitment means null official school visits, which in turn means a vague understanding and hence what the school's promise might prove to be true or false.

  •  You could change your mind and want to go somewhere else.

  •  Another program’s success may begin to look more appealing and may fascinate you, hence you might want to be a part of that opportunity.

  • It might happen that the financial benefits offered by a college to you might not meet your expectations and you are not satisfied. Hence you will be in a search and need of the college that provides financial benefits matching your desire and a better offer too. There might be cases when colleges offer amazing financial benefits but other aspects might not be that encouraging that you might accept it. 

  •  Select colleges with higher early action acceptance rates than regular decision acceptance rates. Also, there will be time for you to polish and perfect your application, as well as take standardized tests on time. 

Hence it will be a better option to wait for a better offer that appeals to you. 

Cons of waiting to commit to a college

Applying to colleges before May 1st is always a good idea. Many colleges might start accepting students if they have space to fill their waiting list even after May 1st. But it is not always true. By waiting to commit to a college, you have a  risk of losing your place to another student who has anxiously stayed on the waitlist in hopes of someone else not taking a place.

Let us discuss the bottom line that comes to committing to colleges

It is always better to accept the offer from your list of best schools that provides better financial aid. 

The odds of another desirable school coming along and offering something better are very little, and even so, if you’re happy with what you have, then you should grab that opportunity. The results might be upsetting if you wait until after May 1st to see if you’ll get a better offer, and you could end up without a place anywhere at all, so this strategy is not recommended. 

Instead, if you get an offer at a school you would like to attend but aren’t sure that the financial aid package is feasible, you do have some room to negotiate. You should try to have a conversation before May 1st so that you know what your final offer is before you make your decision.

If a college reaches out before May 1st to discuss your plans, know that this probably means that you’re a highly desirable candidate to them and they want you. This is a positive sign and could mean that you have room to negotiate. Do not accept their first offer but take some time and try to negotiate as much as possible. Take guidance from your family members and any institution which can provide you with suitable information. 


A lot can change in a long span of time. The school you will take admission often determines the trajectory of your life. This is a big decision to be making early, perhaps it is recommended that you must take official visits to the school. Why not see what actually suits you and where you would be most comfortable. It is nice to have options, hence do not choose one too soon.

You might also be interested to read:

How to be a succesful high school student?

What to consider before accepting a college offer?

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