What is Provisional Admission and What Should You Do If You Get One?

Applying to a college or university requires you to meet certain grades or scores or submit specific documents.

Failure to do so does not necessarily mean that you will receive a rejection letter from the admissions committee — there are instances when you may still get admitted by your top-choice school but with certain conditions or provisions.

Provisional admission is when an institution accepts a student with a reasonably strong application but has failed to meet one or two requirements.

Applicants who receive provisional admission get a traditional letter or an email.

In any case, it is referred to as a provisional admission letter, and it specifies the things the recipients need to do for admission.

The name of the letter may vary from college to college, too, depending on how provisional admission is referred to.

No matter how a provisional admission letter is called by an institution, the fact remains that it explains to you that you have been admitted provisionally by the college which you applied to.

More importantly, it indicates the steps necessary for you to take to gain acceptance, such as:

  • Submitting certain documents required in the admissions process
  • Reporting SAT or ACT scores
  • Meeting a specified minimum GPA
  • Taking required courses

Other than the things to carry out, another very important part of any provisional admission letter is the indication of the deadline for you to complete the step/s pointed out by the college or university.

Pros and Cons

Whether provisional admission is a positive or negative matter will depend on factors such as the individual who receives it, the institution who sends it and the conditions to meet.

It’s a good thing if the provisional admission letter is from your top-choice school.

Definitely, it will mean the world to you to get into the institution at the very top of your college list.

Getting provisional admission from it means that you have the chance to keep on matriculating, but only if you are able to take the steps the institution has specified — and only if you can carry them out successfully within the given time period!

Provisional admission can be a bad thing, too, because, while it gives hope, it’s not a guarantee.

Students who fail to meet all the requirements may feel that they should have instead put their time and energy into another college.

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of provisional admission:


  • Getting admitted provisionally allows you to get into the college of your top choosing even though you failed to meet certain admissions requirements, which not all college-bound teens are blessed with.
  • It motivates you to push yourself like you’ve never pushed yourself before, especially since the conditions each have a deadline, thus allowing you to maximize your potential and improve your talents and skills.
  • Provided that you meet the requirements, provisional admission can become complete admission, thus keeping you from having to start from scratch academically and socially at another institution.


  • You may fail to completely enjoy the college experience as you may feel like you are constantly under the microscope, and a single false move of yours could put the admissions office on high alert.
  • While provisional admission is an opportunity to become fully admitted, it’s not a guarantee. You will have to make sure that you fulfill each and every condition stated in your provisional admission letter.
  • It’s not unlikely for you to wonder if another college would have welcomed you wholeheartedly and fully appreciated who you are and what you can contribute to the community on and off campus.

Is Provisional Admission the Same as Conditional?

Provisional admission and conditional admission, in most instances, mean the same.

However, some colleges and universities may have their own definition of conditional admission, making it different from provisional admission.

Reading the provisional or conditional letter allows the student to learn what he or she needs to do.

There are many names by which provisional admission is sometimes called, and some of them include:

  • Provisional acceptance
  • Conditional acceptance
  • Conditional admission

All of these terms may mean the same as provisional admission at many institutions.

However, they may have different meanings at certain schools, and it’s important for anyone who received any form of admission other than the regular or non-provisional kind to determine what it means exactly.

Can Provisional Become Full Admission?

Provisional admission can definitely become full admission or full acceptance.

However, the student who received provisional admission must first complete all of the requirements specified in the provisional admission letter sent to him or her by the college.

Otherwise, he or she may be dropped from the program and college.

Simply put, provisional admission is some type of opportunity for a college-bound teen to get into college, top-choice or otherwise, that not all college applicants get to enjoy.

Depending on the recipient’s next few actions, his or her provisional admission may turn into full admission.

What the provisionally admitted student needs to do is fulfill all the requirements of the college, be it getting a particular GPA or submitting SAT or ACT scores.

Usually, someone who is admitted to a college program provisionally must also meet specific conditions to become a student who is fully admitted to the program.

Of course, provisional admission can become a dismissal if none of the prerequisites are met.

Special Cases

Financial Aid

Many types of financial aid, especially the institutional kinds, unfortunately, are not available for students who are provisionally admitted.

In most instances, they will have to pay for the required courses out of pocket or by taking out a loan.

Still, it’s recommended for provisionally admitted students to fill out the FAFSA form and submit it on time, too.

Transfer Students

Transfer students, like first-time, first-year students, may also be admitted provisionally by colleges and universities.

The premise of provisional admission for transfer students is pretty much the same for provisional admission for freshmen students in that the requirements the college has specified must be completed satisfactorily or their admission will be rescinded.

International Students

International students may be provisionally admitted to institutions of higher education in the US.

As expected, they must meet the prerequisites before the deadline to remain in the program.

In many instances, international students are required to complete English Language Center (ELC) classes and earn a minimum grade that the college or university requires.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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