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Great Story: The Roads to Decision Day by Sierra Thompkins

The days leading up to National Decision Day were some of the most stressful yet rewarding days of my service so far. I met with each of my students throughout the week leading up to May 1.

For a couple of my students, their decision was a relatively easy one. One of my students shared that she had looked over her financial aid offers, spent time talking with admissions counselors, visited the campus and had all the necessary conversations with their family. After all of that, she was absolutely elated to tell me that her decision had been made, deposit filed and roommate hunt began. It was such an amazing moment to get to share in her joy and recognize her for all the work she had done to bring her to this moment.

For other students, the lead-up to decision day was less smooth sailing. Upon meeting with another of my students, he shared that she was still waiting to receive his financial aid offer from his top choice after a months-long mix-up with his residency status. After meeting with the residency office and financial aid office to clear it up, all he could do was wait. By the time our meeting rolled around, just a few days before decision day, he still hadn’t heard back. We ended the call with a loose game plan about how to keep his options open should he decide this school wasn’t a viable financial choice.

Miraculously, just a few hours later, he reached out again saying that he had received his updated financial aid offer. More than that, his offer reflected a surplus of financial aid, making his decision immediately clear. I took time to bask in the moment with him, and he went on to submit his deposit and confirm his enrollment.

For another student, the journey to decision day was even more tumultuous. After months of back and forth about which school she might want to attend and why, I hoped our meeting just a few days before decision day would help her gain some clarity. Instead, she seemed more unsure than ever. She shared that her top choice was University of Washington, Seattle, but she was not admitted. She let me know that she had initiated an admissions appeal with UW-Seattle but would not hear back for several weeks. In the meantime, she intended to accept her offer to Seattle University and possibly rescind it later. However, all of that changed when we reviewed her recently updated financial aid offer from Seattle Pacific University.

Suddenly, a school she had not given much thought or consideration to was the most affordable option, giving her the opportunity to attend loan-free. With this new information, she let me know she needed some time to think it over.

As days passed and decision day loomed closer, I had not heard back from my student. Before I knew it, May 1 arrived and I still had no word. That was until mid-afternoon on May 1 when she emailed me in a panic, asking if we could go over the financial aid offers one more time. I agreed, but upon comparing the offers, we confirmed that SPU was her safest financial option. As such, she decided to enroll at SPU with a more reserved excitement while she awaited the ultimate decision from UW.

While some of my students had a big, bold triumphant moment upon deciding on their school, for others it looked less obvious. Even so, they all achieved the goal they set out to achieve of enrolling in college. Each of these experiences taught me the importance of celebrating each little success on the path to a larger goal.

No matter what decision day looked like for each of my students, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share their successes along the way.

This story was written by Sierra Thompkins, an AmeriCorps high school senior coach at College Possible Washington.

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