Waitlisted. Now What?

posted by: Lisa Cynamon Mayers, Senior Admissions Consultant


The waitlist is like purgatory. Waiting, wondering, not knowing if you’ll ultimately get the call from the bullpen or if you’ll simply be stuck waiting around, never getting the nod. The problem with the waitlist is that the college admission officers really can’t let you know your true chances of being taken off of the waitlist. At this point in the game their guess is as good as yours as to whether or not they’ll need to go to the waitlist come May. The waitlist is like an insurance policy for colleges. Ideally the magic number of admitted students will say yes, the class will be filled and all will be thrilled. Well, all except those on the waitlist. With a month to go until admitted students need to notify colleges of their decision, the waitlist is anyone’s guess. 


If you find yourself waitlisted by your first choice school there are some things that you can do to help maximize your odds of coming off of the waitlist. Even if you do everything I suggest understand that you still may not get the nod. Remember it’s a game of statistics and numbers at this point and even though you are amazing and wonderful and have so much to offer Dream U., there just may not be a space for you right now.


Some suggestions:

  1. Write a letter. Take pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write an honest, heartfelt letter about your interest in the college. Explain in detail why you are interested and what you would bring to campus. Don’t be whiny or defensive. Just be candid and forthcoming about your interest in the school.
  2. Send updates. The admission committee received your application back in December or January. Maybe you’ve received additional honors or your grades have improved or you finally made varsity. Share this information. In your heartfelt letter include any updates or additional accolades or accomplishments.
  3. Counselor call. Ask your high school counselor to call the admission office. Maybe your counselor can glean some additional information that could be useful. Perhaps your counselor will learn that it’s just not going to happen and you can start the process of moving on.
  4. Write another letter. In early May. After May 1st the admission offices will have a better sense of their numbers. Remind the admission counselors of your interest in another friendly letter. If anyone is going to come off of the waitlist, it’s going to be the students who have demonstrated consistent interest.
  5. Move on. In all likelihood you’ve been admitted to other great schools. Though it may not have worked out with Dream U. you still have a bright future and other fantastic schools hoping you will select their campus. By October you probably won’t even look back and wish you were at another school. But if during your first or second semester you are still yearning to attend Dream U., transferring is always an option.

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