So You’ve Been Waitlisted?

If you’ve been waitlisted at your dream college and you’re sure you want to go there, you can:

  1. Think it over! Do you truly want to go to this school? Being on a waitlist can put you in emotional limbo, so make sure you still really want to attend the institution. If  you do, accept the waitlist invitation.

  2. Enroll at your next best option before May 1. That’s the deadline to tell schools if you’re going there or not, so make sure you have that locked in.

  3. Find the contact information for your region’s admissions officer and send an email thanking them for placing you on the waitlist and explaining that their school is your top choice. Make sure to detail any accomplishments, awards, or extracurriculars that were left off of your application or that have happened since applying. Do not repeat what was on your application. Think about what could tip the scales: a “best student” award from the principal? A first place medal in your regional debate or sports tournament? Volunteering with a non profit? You can also provide more information about why you think that school would be a great fit for you and what you will contribute while going there.

  4. Follow up with a phone call asking if they received your email and ask if there is anything you can do to get off of their waitlist. Emphasize that it’s your first choice school!

  5. If you can, visit the school and continue to contact admissions officers to show interest and update them on your new accomplishments.

  6. Ask your high school counselor or any *relevant* people to contact the institution on your behalf or to write additional letters of recommendation.

  7. If you did an interview with an admissions counselor or alumni, contact them to ask if there is anything they suggest doing to help your chances.

  8. Keep your grades up and submit your most recent report cards, as well as test scores if you took an additional SAT, ACT or AP test since applying.

  9. If you can offer to pay tuition in full or have a special connection, that can also help.

If you are offered a spot, know it may come after the May 1 deadline for committing to a college. Many schools offer spots through the end of the summer. You were likely accepted to another college that could be a great fit for you and is worth committing to. If you do get off the waitlist, know you are forfeiting your deposit for the other school and taking yourself on an emotional roller coaster! Colleges only accept between 3-17% of students on their waitlist, so keep that in mind as you make your decision.