If you find yourself on the waitlist for a school you really want to attend, the most important advice we can share is DON’T WAIT, COMMUNICATE REGULARLY!
Many students take the word “wait” in “waitlist” too literally, and they wait patiently and quietly in the hopes of being accepted. However, it is very difficult to move off the waitlist if you don’t take action immediately. We’ve included information to help you better understand what a waitlist is, and how to increase your chances of getting off the waitlist.
In this post we share more about the top 5 tips for getting off the waitlist, which include:
- Accept the invitation to join the waitlist
- Let them know how much you want to go
- Send updates
- Keep up your grades and send in final transcripts
- Have your counselor or a community group leader contact the school on your behalf
Schools place students on a waitlist for a variety of reasons, but it generally means that you are a competitive candidate, although there is not enough information to indicate that you are the most competitive/unique or would certainly attend in order to be offered admission. This has to do with something called “yield.”
For a college, yield is measured by how many of those students offered admission choose to accept the offer and enroll. A college wants to keep this statistic high, as it indicates that students who are accepted choose to enroll. So, if there are difficult admissions decisions between similarly competitive students, they would not want to offer a spot to someone who is unlikely to attend.
If you have been waitlisted at a school that you remain highly interested in attending, you want to show that you:
- are competitive/unique
- are prepared to accept an offer of admission.
To help, you can follow these key steps:
- Accept the invitation to join the waitlist. It seems simple enough, but some students forget to formally join the waitlist, whether this is a paper or electronic invitation. Make sure you do this as soon as possible to quickly signal your continued interest in the school.
- Let them know how much you want to go. Write a new email or letter to the admissions committee thanking them for placing you on the waitlist, reiterating your desire to attend (if it is your top choice school, say that! Let them know that you would accept an offer of admission if this is the case), as well as making the case for why you are a great fit. Make sure this letter adds information that is not already found in your application file. You can share what particular courses, professors, activities, etc. are of interest and why (be specific), as well as what you will BRING to the community. You can even get creative, such as creating a video with a private (unlisted) YouTube link to express your continued enthusiasm to attend a particular school.
- Send updates. You will want to share any big updates since the time of your application. If you have received any significant new awards, honors or standardized test scores, this is a good time to share them. You don’t want to overwhelm the admissions committee, but you do want to demonstrate your continued interest and let them know of meaningful achievements. You can also consider submitting an additional letter of recommendation from someone who can add a fresh perspective on your application.
- Keep up your grades, and send in final transcripts. Your full year’s transcripts will be evaluated as a waitlisted applicant, so make sure that your final semester/quarters accurately reflect your determination and talent. You will want to send in your final transcripts to make sure they have the latest information and continue to see how interested you are in attending.
- Have your counselor or a community group leader contact the school on your behalf. You may want your high school counselor (or a community group leader who knows you well) to contact the waitlisted college on your behalf. Generally, all other contact should come from you as the student. It’s important that you show yourself to be personally assertive and capable of advocating for yourself.
Some colleges will start admitting waitlisted students as early as April, but others may hold on to your application until June or even July to fill any last-minute gaps in the enrolling class.
Amidst all of this activity, you may need to enroll at your second-choice school (and pay the non-refundable deposit) if you have not heard back on your first-choice school’s waitlist prior to the general enrollment deadline of May 1st. Since you don’t know if you’ll get off the waitlist, you want to secure your spot at another school that has accepted you.
Additionally, if it is financially and logistically feasible for you, you can visit the college where you are on the waitlist in order to signal your continued interest. This is not essential, and don’t worry if your family cannot afford to do so. The above steps are the most important, and a visit is an optional step that will likely have no bearing on the final admissions decision.
Remember that it is easy to get your heart set on a particular school, and it can be difficult if you are waitlisted or ultimately not admitted. However, think about the schools where you have been offered admission, they want you! You may find that what was once a second-choice school becomes your top choice and where you ultimately enroll.
Good luck with these waitlist and enrollment decisions, and let us know if we can help by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org!