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Intersectional Conversations: Acceptance Letters & Bargaining

By: LatinaChika

It is the season of university and college letters and we wanted to discuss the entire process, so that it is less overwhelming for you.

As the letters start coming in, here are a few things you need to consider:


    • This is a hard one… we highly recommend you wait for ALL responses to come in BEFORE you make a decision.
    • Even if your top choice responds with an acceptance, you need wait to see what the other schools offer. This will open the door for bargaining, which we will address in a bit.
    • You also want to wait for all your letters because your circumstances may have changed from when you applied to where you are now, which leads us to the next point.
    • You want to consider all your options before you respond yes or no.
    • Like we said before, your circumstances may have changed and you need to consider which school best fits YOUR needs.
    • The type of things you need to consider are location, diversity, housing, and funding.
    • LOCATION – How far is the school from your loved ones? Will that be hard on you? Are you from the city? Are you from the country side? Is your school in the same setting? If not, will you be okay with that?
    • DIVERSITY – Is the school in a town or city that is ethnically diverse? Is a predominantly white community and college? Will you be okay with that kind of educational setting? Do you want more diverse voices in your classroom?
    • HOUSING – This one is a hard one. This takes deeper research. You need to find out if the school was able to provide housing for all its students the previous year(s). A google search can offer your newspaper articles or blog posts/reddit posts where students bring awareness to the the lack of housing options in the school AND in the community surrounding the school. For examples, if you are set to attend a school where 10,000 students are accepted a year, but the town surrounding it is small and isolated, the problem will be lack of housing options. Not only are students looking for temporary housing (2 to 5 years), families are also living in these communities and, unfortunately, there isn’t enough housing for everyone. Make sure you do your research.
    • FUNDING – Will the school be paying for your tuition? Will FAFSA cover your entire bill? What kinds of funding is available to me? This is where bargaining is so important.
    • Once you have all of your letters of acceptance, you want to look at what kind of financial support these schools are offering you.
    • Let’s say one school offers you a “full ride” (which means they will pay the entire year for you without you having to pay it back), you will need to decide if a different school is more important for you. If so, you can use the letter of acceptance with the full-ride as a bargaining tool for the school you do want.
    • When you receive your letters, there will be a contact person included. These are the people you want to contact to attempt to bargain with. They are normally staff at the admissions office.
    • When you bargain, you want to let them know that you are highly interested in coming to their school but you cannot afford it. Then, you let them know that you have been offered a “full-ride” or “almost a full-ride” from ____blank____ school, but that is not the school you are interested in. You have to let them know that your heart is set on this school and not the other.
    • They may ask for proof and you can forward emails or scan letters to PDF.
    • It is called bargaining for a reason because you may go back and forth in responses and you will continue to advocate for a “full ride” for yourself. They may come back and offer your a bit more money, but not enough. You have every right to say, “Thank you so much for your new offer, but my family and I cannot afford this. Is there any other types of support I can be considered for?” Sometimes, that get’s you more money and, sometimes, it is the last offer. Trying is all you can do!
    • The last thing I would like you to know is that universities, especially private schools, set their tuition as high as they can. And, during bargaining discussions, they will lower their tuition as low as they want. I have seen people walk away paying as low as $1,000 for an entire academic year at a private university. I have also seen people bargain a full-ride from one school and bargain a full-ride to another. Anything is possible… all you need to do is TRY. So many people do not know they can bargain or they choose not to bargain for whatever personal reasons, but we highly recommend you do so.
    • As you begin to consider which school you will honor with your amazing presence, you want to consider what studies/departments exist at these schools and if they have departments you are interested in.
    • For a lot of undergraduate students, the option to come in UNDECIDED for a major is the best thing ever because you are open to anything! If you are this student, you want to make sure you have all the options you want to explore. For example, if you are interested in Music, Art, and Film, you want to make sure they are offered so that you can take a course in each. This will help you decide which major you would like to officially pursue your junior and senior year. The first two years of college are primarily filled with requirements and very few major classes. In other words, it is a great time to explore and you want to make sure you have the options you want!
    • Other students come into the university knowing what major they plan to pursue. I was one of those people. I was set on earning my Bachelor’s in Journalism. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the courses as much as I enjoyed the courses I took (for a requirement) in Ethnic Studies. I fell in love with the major and never looked back! (I am currently earning my PhD in ChicanX Studies/LAtinX Studies). But, there is students who come in knowing what they want to get their degree and do amazing at doing so! Taking the courses solidifies their decision to pursue their degree.
    • Whatever your journey is in the university, it is your own! There is no same journey because college is about YOUR personal growth. No one is the same and we all have different experiences and perspectives. I am so excited for your new journey!
    • This is something that means so much to me because I have seen so many students struggle with their mental health in the university without knowing there is help.
    • I would highly suggest that you make sure your school has student services and that it includes counseling.
    • If not, I would ask your school what insurance they offer. Each year, you as part of your tuition, you pay for your own medical services. The school may have counseling services on campus OR there is counseling centers that accept your insurance in the community outside of the school.
    • If you are currently in therapy or counseling, make sure you have a new person/team in place when you arrive to your school.
    • Your mental health is so important and it will affect your ability to do your studies. You want to get the help you need and know where to go.

I hope these strategies for acceptance letters and bargaining help and if you have any questions, leave a comment below.


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