Being placed on the waitlist for your top choice institution is probably not what you had in your college fantasy, however, there are certain facts you need to consider before moving forward. In this post, we’ll list out some information about waitlists and what you should do if you find yourself on one.
First, be aware that the possibility of getting off the waitlist is pretty slim. According to US News, the average amount of students that get accepted off the waitlist is 32.3%. Some universities put two times the number of students on the waitlist as they accept into the college. For example, in the fall of 2018, The University of Pennsylvania put over 2,700 students on their waitlist. So, before choosing to place all your bets on the waitlist, you should consider the other schools you were accepted to, your local community college, and taking a gap year.
After you take time to consider your other options, it’s time to decide whether you want to join the waitlist or not. If you choose to join the waitlist, you should still put down a deposit at a different school by decision day, May 1. Please note if you choose to enroll at the school where you were waitlisted, you'll likely lose your original deposit. But, losing a deposit is better than not having a spot anywhere for the fall semester.
If you decide to decline your spot on the waitlist, you should formally decline the spot by notifying the admissions office. That way, you can open up a space to those who have decided to wait it out. There’s no need to hold on to a space that you are no longer interested in.
If you decide to stay on the waitlist, here are some steps you can take to raise your chances. The first step is to find the specific admissions counselor dedicated to your region and email them a letter reiterating your interest in the university. This letter could contain; information about why you’re a good fit for the university, an updated report card, an explanation of how your high school activities can support the goals of the institution, and maybe even new SAT/ACT scores.
Remember to stay in contact with your university admissions officer, but don’t badger them. No need to send emails every day, or week asking if you’ve been admitted. Remember to keep a healthy amount of distance between your communications. You want to stay closer to sustained interest versus pestering.
Finally, if you are admitted you must act fast. Usually, there’s a limit to how long you have to act on your acceptance before it’s too late. Be sure to read your notification carefully to be sure that time won’t run out before you make a decision.
Overall, you should be proud regardless of your decision. The act of applying to college is a feat within itself, and you should feel fulfilled no matter where you land! If you have any questions or tips you want to share about your experience on the waitlist, please share them below!