TODAY   |  April 01, 2014

What to do after that college letter arrives

Kat Cohen, CEO of IvyWise, gives TODAY viewers advice on preparing for the steps that come after that college letter arrives, whether it’s acceptance, rejection, or the wait-list limbo. Send us your college acceptance videos with the hashtag #Acceptedtoday.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> that one letter that can change the course of their lives.

>> no pressure at all. we're talking about the college acceptance letters that come with heartbreaking disappointment or pure joy.

>> yes!

>> what?

>> no way!

>> yeah!

>> oh, my gosh!

>> you got in?

>> she got in!

>> i got in!

>> ahhh!

>> that is so great. so seven students got into the colleges of their choice, obviously. congratulations to all of them and all of you who sent us your videos. we've shown nine on the air over the past couple of weeks, and those students will receive a surface 2 tablet with a cover furnished by microsoft retail stores .

>> and joining us this morning is the ceo of ivy wide. good morning. good to see you.

>> good morning.

>> it's exciting to see this roller coaster of emotion. finally, you're in, and you've got to look at the next steps ahead.

>> exactly. and these students are lucky. and for many students, they're looking at multiple offers of admission. so they're trying to figure out, okay, where am i going to go to school ? they've got to make this decision in the next month. may 1st is the enrollment deadline. we tell students, first of all, you've got to research. go back to that research. figure out courses, professors, research opportunities going on at the school . you want to figure out if it's a good fit academically.

>> revisit the school .

>> exactly. this is the time to visit if you haven't visited and you're one of those lucky kids that's looking at multiple offers. but then we also tell kids, you might want to re-visit schools because if you're on the fence, this is a great time to do that gut check.

>> i love what you said about financial aid . there is so much aid available these days, which makes opportunity for people who otherwise wouldn't have it. you say you can kind of pit schools against each other and negotiate a little bit.

>> exactly. so this is now the ball's in your court, right? you've been admitted, they want you to come. this is when you have to use all -- everything in your control. if you love school x more than school y but school y gave you a better offer. you can call school x and say can you match the offer from school y? create that bidding war. they want you to come. this is your time --

>> they're receptive to that?

>> absolutely.

>> is that part of the big money talk you say kids and their parents should have?

>> yes. right now, this might be the first time that parents are talking to their kids about realistically about what their finances are. and they have to have that conversation about what they're going to contribute and what they expect their students to contribute. maybe the student needs to take an on campus job or sell their car from high school . but also, it's important for parents to create a budget. it's not just tuition, room and board. we advise parents to think 10% more than that. there's transportation, cell phone, off campus activities. and you want to stick your kids into that budget and don't just keep replenishing their bank accounts .

>> a lot of kids on wait lists of their dream school . what can they be doing while on that waitlist?

>> well, the first thing, writing a letter to the school . and if it's your first choice school , let the school know, hey, i will definitely come if i'm admitted from the waitlist. but they still need to enroll somewhere by may 1st . they have to deposit somewhere. they're not going to find out about the waitlist until june or july. they might lose that deposit. it's very important for students to keep up their grades and do well on their final exams and a.p.s because they -- the colleges will look at your final transcript when they're making this waitlist decision.

>> really good advice this time of year. thank you.

>> thank you.

>> we're back in a moment. this is "today" on nbc.

>>> kathie lee and hoda bringing the orange today.

>> bringing it.

>> yeah. we've got tell-all and