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3 Things You Need to Know About College Waitlists


Being waitlisted by a college can be an emotional rollercoaster. You may feel a mix of disappointment, hope, and anxiety, unsure of what to do next. This article aims to help you navigate the waitlist process by addressing three key aspects you need to know. By understanding the process, you can make informed decisions and increase your chances of turning that waitlist status into an acceptance.

Understand the waitlist process

When you’re waitlisted, it means that the college recognizes your potential but cannot offer you a spot in the incoming class due to limited space. However, you are still considered for admission if space becomes available. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), colleges typically accept between 20% and 50% of waitlisted applicants each year, depending on various factors like enrollment targets and yield rates.

It’s important to remember that waitlists are not ranked. The college may consider various factors, such as academic performance, extracurricular activities, or demographic balance, when admitting waitlisted students. Stay informed about the waitlist policies of the college you’re interested in, as each institution has its unique approach.

Take action to improve your chances

While being on a waitlist can feel passive, you should be proactive in showing your continued interest and updating the college with any new achievements or information. Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Write a letter of continued interest: Express your enthusiasm for the college, reiterate why you’re a good fit, and provide updates on any new accomplishments or experiences since submitting your application.
  • Submit any missing or additional documentation: Ensure that the college has received all required materials, such as standardized test scores or transcripts. If you have new achievements, like improved grades or awards, consider sending them as well.
  • Connect with the admissions office: Reach out to the admissions representative responsible for your region, introduce yourself, and ask any relevant questions. This helps establish a connection and demonstrates your interest in the college.

Keep in mind that each college has different preferences regarding communication from waitlisted students, so be sure to follow their guidelines.

Have a backup plan

While you hope for the best, it’s essential to be realistic and prepare for the possibility of not getting off the waitlist. Make sure you have a backup plan by accepting an offer from another college by the May 1st deadline. This ensures that you’ll have a spot in the fall, regardless of the outcome of the waitlist.

If you’re ultimately admitted off the waitlist, you may lose your deposit at the initial college, but this is a small price to pay for securing your spot at your preferred institution. Remember to remain optimistic but also have a backup plan that you’re excited about.

Key Take Away

Being on a college waitlist can be a challenging experience, but understanding the process and taking proactive steps can help increase your chances of admission. Remember to stay informed, express your continued interest, update the college on new achievements, and have a backup plan in place. By doing so, you’ll be well-prepared to handle whatever outcome the waitlist process brings. Good luck! If you need help navigating the college admission process we’re here to help.

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