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Wallowing on the Waitlist


Your eagerly-awaited decision letter from Dream University finally arrives and you learn that you’ve been offered not the hoped-for place in the class, but a spot on their waitlist. What should you do now?

Your first step is to carefully consider the rest of your college acceptances and determine which of these provides the best fit for you. If necessary, revisit several of your top choices, spending as much time on campus as possible, sitting in on classes and talking to current students.

Accept your favorite offer by returning your intent to enroll form along with any needed deposit before the May 1st reply date. Be sure to submit the form and deposit for housing as well. For many schools, the date your deposit is received determines your housing choice. You’ll also want to send a nice note to each of the other colleges that offered you a place, thanking them for their interest and explaining that you’ve made other plans. Letting your other colleges know as soon as possible that you won’t enroll allows them to offer your spot to another student.

Now for your waitlist offer.

If you are still truly interested in attending this college, respond promptly to their offer accepting a place on the waitlist. Follow this up with a personal call to your admissions contact, expressing your disappointment as well as your hope of admittance. Ask if the waitlist is ranked in any way and how many students are on it. Inquire about the number of students they expect to take from the waitlist or have taken in prior years. Be sure to find out if there is a cutoff date for the waitlist.

This is also a good time to update the admissions officer about new achievements, rising grades, honors or awards. Remind your admissions officer of why the school is a good fit for you and of the many assets you’ll bring to campus. You might even wish to send an additional letter of recommendation from one of your senior year teachers.

If Waitlist U is your first choice and you will enroll if admitted, tell them so. Nationally, only about 20% of waitlisted students are admitted each year. If you really want to be among those who are, you need to be proactive in contacting the admissions office and letting them know of your continuing interest in attending.


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