As a college applicant, you have the right to receive
information from colleges and universities about their admission, financial
costs, financial aid opportunities and housing policies.
accepted into a college, and you decide to go there, you're entering into
a contractual agreement," says Deloris Richardson. "So you need to know where
you stand, and what's expected." Richardson is assistant director for education
and training at the National Association for College Admission Counseling
"It's kind of like a bill of rights," she says. "You have
to know what you're entitled to so you don't fall prey to some predatory type
of school... a fly-by-night institution that has students paying exorbitant
fees. You have a right to protect yourself and know."
The U.S. government
requires colleges and universities to provide the following information to
prospective students, according to NACAC:
- Costs, including tuition, books, supplies, housing and other fees
- Requirements and procedures for withdrawing from the school, and refund
- Academic programs, a list of faculty members and instructors, graduation
or completion rates, transfer-out rates (for schools that prepare students
for transfers to four-year colleges)
- Types of financial aid available, criteria for determining eligibility,
how and when aid is distributed
- Names of associations that accredit, approve or license the school
- Services and facilities for students with disabilities
- The number and types of crimes reported on or near campus, policies and
procedures for reporting campus crimes and emergencies, and the college's
policy on drug offenses
Freedom from high-pressure sales is another right of prospective students.
Even if you're applying early, you have the right to complete information
about the college's admission process and policies.
make this information available on their websites, in college catalogs, or
in other materials. "The information is usually in print right before [students],"
says Richardson. "It's on the travel brochures. It's in the prospectus. They
will also receive mailings to their homes letting them know what costs are....
And so it's really up to them to actually read it, and then go from there."
Colleges and universities also have policies and procedures for enrolled
students around student conduct, discipline, discrimination, harassment, student
grievances, and alcohol and drug use, which may differ from school to school.
This information is typically found on the schools' websites or in college
As a student applying to college,
you have certain responsibilities too. You must research, understand and comply
with the college's policies and procedures around application fees, financial
aid, scholarships, housing and deposits. It's important to understand the
college's on-campus policies and procedures, such as student conduct, because
you'll be expected to observe those policies once you're a student at the
When applying to a college, it's your responsibility to complete
all required material and submit your application on or before the deadline.
Be sure to fill out your applications yourself. When you receive an offer,
you must inform each college or university whether you're accepting or rejecting
the offer -- no later than May 1. (Early decision programs are an exception
to this deadline.)
Information about what you need to do as a college
applicant is typically available on college websites, in e-mails and snail
mail sent to applicants, and on the application form itself.
like to think we do a pretty good job of telling [students] you have to do
this, this, this and this, and we'll take it from there," says Chris Portney.
She works in the admissions department at the University of Arizona. "The
best thing is to check e-mails -- which [students] often don't -- and follow
College applicants' rights and responsibilities are made
available to protect colleges as well, says Portney. "We're not doing our
job if we're holding something back," she says. "And miscommunication can
lead to a lot of problems for both sides."
Overall, Portney finds
that student applicants are generally aware of their rights and responsibilities.
"From an admissions standpoint ... this millennial generation is very different
from previous ones," she says.
"They are much more informed. Everything
they click, click, click on the web, and they can find it if they are motivated,
and the majority of them are. And Mom and Dad are much more involved.... They're
better informed than they used to be, and the follow through is better."
If you feel your rights have been denied, contact the college or university
for more information. Speak to your high school guidance counselor or a college
advisor. Or contact NACAC for assistance.
Students may contact the
college if they're denied acceptance, says Marie Alford, director of admissions
at California State University, Long Beach. "Many times we have students who
are fairly good students, who we can't admit simply because we get so many
more applicants than we can accommodate," she says.
"And I will just
help them understand that while they did a good job, and they certainly have
academic potential, at our campus we can only admit so many students, and
unfortunately that cutoff just has to be drawn somewhere."
cases, issues are resolved after speaking with an admissions officer, says
Alford. However, in some cases, students appeal their admission decision if
they believe the college did not have their most recent test scores or GPA.
"When we get those, we just verify our records and make sure we do have
the correct information," says Alford. "If we've made an error, we certainly
will reverse it."
Alford advises students to start preparing for
college during their junior year of high school. "[Students should] identify
where they want to go to school," she says. "And they have to consider more
than one -- preferably three or four. And then get on the website, look at
the requirements for each one of those schools ... and talk to
"Call the universities and ask questions," she adds.
"Admissions offices and outreach offices are always there to answer students'