Enrollment deposits serve as effective ‘place holders’

Dennis Kelly - Contributing columnist

For graduating high school seniors, March is typically the month for narrowing down your college selection process to one or two top choices. But these are not typical times as the nation looks to emerge from the pandemic in the coming months.

March has pivoted to April, May and even June. The pandemic has slowed down the decision progress for many students because of the unavailability of initial campus visitation, the decision to test or not to test and, for some families, filing the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) later than usual.

It almost feels like more students are completing many of the tasks they would normally do after their initial campus visit.

This behavior is exactly the opposite how a student would navigate college choice — pre-pandemic. The increasing availability of COVID vaccines has opened up opportunities for campus visits, which continue to be an important part of the college selection process.

With these extraordinary times in mind, the importance of the enrollment deposit cannot be underemphasized.

This anomaly of a year is not only affecting the student side of the equation. Many larger public institutions are delaying their admission decisions and, in turn, the awarding of financial aid, which may have a bearing on your relationship with a private school.

To make things more complicated for those students choosing between a public or private institution, delaying the paying of a deposit with the private college may affect your securing housing preferences, attending specialized events, summer registration days, advising opportunities and applying for certain scholarships.

Deposits serve as place holders for new students. This self-initiated action places the student into the class and initiates all the opportunities the institution has to offer.

Deposits are also in most cases refundable, so it’s to a student’s advantage to pay the deposit at schools in which they have a serious interest.

It’s also important to discuss the deposit decision with your admission counselor. Be open to explaining why you have decided to deposit, along with articulating any timeline need for an extension or if you’re considering delaying your enrollment to the following semester.

Being open with your college representative allows them one more opportunity to assist your requirements for making not only a choice — but an informed choice.

Wilmington College enrolls students for both fall and spring semesters while the nontraditional programs at WC’s Cincinnati campus invites new students to enroll in summer, fall and spring semesters.

The College acknowledges that a deposit is an important step towards your most important decision — selecting an educational experience whose value proposition represents the best match for you to succeed from “App to Cap!”

Graduation cap, that is.

Dennis M. Kelly, a nationally known enrollment administrator, has been presenting columns in the Wilmington News Journal on navigating the college search process as a service to local families. Kelly is the senior vice president for enrollment management at Wilmington College.


Dennis Kelly

Contributing columnist