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How to Tell a University You Are Not Attending

Choosing the right university is an important decision that can shape your future. However, circumstances may arise that lead you to reconsider your choice. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to inform a university that you will not be attending, it’s essential to handle the situation professionally and respectfully. In this article, we will guide you through the process of conveying your decision effectively.

1. Understand the Importance of Communicating Your Decision

Informing a university that you will not be attending is crucial for several reasons:

  • It allows the university to offer the spot to another deserving candidate.
  • It helps maintain a positive relationship with the university.
  • It demonstrates your professionalism and consideration for others.

2. Review the Offer and Acceptance Letter

Before you communicate your decision, review the offer and acceptance letter you received from the university. Pay attention to any specific instructions or guidelines provided for declining the offer. Familiarize yourself with any deadlines or procedures mentioned.

3. Choose the Right Communication Channel

Selecting an appropriate communication channel is important to ensure your message is received promptly and professionally. Consider the following options:

a. Email

Email is a widely accepted and convenient method for communicating with universities. It allows you to express your thoughts clearly and maintain a formal tone. Ensure your email includes the following elements:

  • A clear subject line: Use a subject line like “Regretful Decline of Admission Offer – [Your Name].”
  • Salutation: Address the appropriate individual or department with a formal greeting, such as “Dear [Name/Department].”
  • Express gratitude: Begin by expressing your appreciation for the offer of admission.
  • State your decision: Clearly state that you will not be accepting the admission offer.
  • Provide a brief explanation: If appropriate, mention the reasons for your decision, such as accepting another offer or unforeseen personal circumstances.
  • Express regret: Show genuine regret for declining the offer and any inconvenience caused.
  • Offer thanks: Conclude the email by thanking the university for the opportunity and expressing your admiration for the institution.

b. Phone Call

If you prefer a more personal approach, consider making a phone call to the admissions office. This allows for immediate feedback and ensures your message is received and understood. Follow these guidelines when making a phone call:

  • Find the appropriate contact information: Look for the admissions office phone number or the contact details of the individual who sent you the offer letter.
  • Introduce yourself: Clearly state your name and mention that you were offered admission to the university.
  • Express appreciation: Begin by expressing your gratitude for the offer.
  • State your decision: Politely inform the admissions officer that you will not be accepting the offer.
  • Provide a brief explanation: If comfortable, briefly explain the reasons for your decision.
  • Express regret and gratitude: Convey your regret for declining and thank the admissions officer for their time and consideration.
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4. Be Prompt and Respectful

Time is of the essence when declining a university offer. Respond to the university as soon as possible to allow them sufficient time to make alternative arrangements. Ensure your message is polite, respectful, and free of any negative or critical comments. Remember, maintaining a positive relationship with the university and its representatives is essential.

5. Confirm Your Decision in Writing

After communicating your decision, it is advisable to send a written confirmation. This serves as a formal record and avoids any misunderstandings. In your confirmation letter or email, reiterate your decision not to attend the university and express your gratitude once again.

Additional Tips for Declining a University Offer

In addition to the main steps outlined above, here are some additional tips to consider when telling a university you will not be attending:

1. Be honest but tactful:

  • If you have accepted another offer, you can mention it briefly without going into unnecessary details.
  • If personal circumstances or financial constraints are the reasons for your decision, you can mention them without getting too personal or emotional.

2. Avoid burning bridges:

  • Keep in mind that circumstances may change in the future, and you might want to apply to the same university again or seek opportunities with them. Therefore, it’s essential to maintain a positive relationship and leave a good impression.

3. Offer to provide feedback:

  • If you feel comfortable, you can offer to provide feedback on your experience with the admissions process. This gesture shows your willingness to contribute constructively and help the university improve its procedures.

4. Follow up with any necessary paperwork:

  • If you have already submitted any documents or paperwork to the university, inquire about the necessary steps to withdraw or cancel them. This ensures that all formalities are taken care of on your end.

5. Seek guidance if needed:

  • If you are uncertain about how to communicate your decision or have specific questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the admissions office or a guidance counselor for assistance. They can provide you with further guidance and support.

Sample Email Template for Declining a University Offer

Here’s a sample email template you can use as a starting point when declining a university offer:

Subject: Regretful Decline of Admission Offer – [Your Name]

Dear [Name/Department],

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to express my sincere appreciation for the offer of admission to [University Name]. After careful consideration and thoughtful deliberation, I regret to inform you that I will not be accepting the admission offer for the upcoming academic year.

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I want to express my gratitude to the admissions committee for considering my application and extending this opportunity to me. The decision was not an easy one, as I hold [University Name] in high regard and admire the academic excellence and diverse opportunities it offers to its students.

After much contemplation, I have decided to pursue another academic opportunity that aligns closely with my long-term goals and aspirations. It was a difficult choice, and I deeply regret any inconvenience caused by my decision.

I wanted to take a moment to convey my utmost respect for [University Name] and its esteemed faculty. The reputation and quality of education at [University Name] are truly commendable. I am grateful for the chance to have been considered for admission to such a prestigious institution.

Once again, I want to express my sincere appreciation for the opportunity and the time and effort invested in reviewing my application. I remain deeply grateful for your consideration and regret that I will not be joining the [University Name] community.

Thank you for your understanding. I wish the university continued success in its endeavors, and I am confident that the incoming students will thrive and contribute to the university’s mission.

With warm regards,

[Your Name] [Your Contact Information]

Feel free to customize this template to fit your specific circumstances and personal style. Remember to proofread your email before sending it and ensure that the tone remains professional and respectful throughout.


Declining a university offer can be a challenging and sensitive task, but it is essential to handle it professionally and respectfully. By following the steps outlined in this article, including choosing the right communication channel, expressing gratitude, and providing a clear and prompt response, you can effectively inform the university of your decision.

Remember to maintain a positive and respectful tone throughout your communication, as this can leave a lasting impression and help preserve a good relationship with the university. Being honest, tactful, and appreciative will showcase your professionalism and consideration for others.

Whether you choose to send an email or make a phone call, make sure to document your decision and follow up with any necessary paperwork or confirmations. This ensures that the university is informed and can proceed with any alternative arrangements.

Declining a university offer is a personal decision, and it’s important to trust your instincts and choose the path that aligns best with your goals and aspirations. By handling the communication process thoughtfully and professionally, you can maintain positive connections and leave the door open for potential future opportunities.

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Remember, the university admissions team understands that students may have to make difficult decisions, and they appreciate your honesty and respect throughout the process. By approaching the situation with courtesy and gratitude, you can navigate the process smoothly and maintain positive relationships in the academic community.

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