Advice for Students on the Wait List

anxietyWhile May 1st has come and gone and the majority of high school seniors know where they will attend college next year, some students are still in a holding pattern.  They are stuck in the purgatory of college admissions.  They are on the wait list.

Reality is that there is no way to predict if you will be taken off the wait list of a college.  You can look at the numbers from last year and gauge your chances, but only the college knows if they will need wait listed students to fill spots in their class.  Even if the odds are against you, you should not sit around and not do anything about it.  Here are three things you can do to increase your chances of being taken of the wait list.

  1. Continue to show interest.  Some colleges rank their wait list based on the review of your application. Your overall admission score can include your testing and your grades and the students with the highest scores will be taken of the wait list first.  However, some colleges rank students based on interest.  All colleges are very conscious of their yield, so they want to admit students off their wait list that they think are going to enroll, so it is essential that you continue to show interest in the college you are waiting to hear from.  If you have not done so already, send an email, write a letter, do something that continues to document your interest in the college.  In your letter, you should highlight what you hope to add to their college community.  Be specific.  Now is the time to really show that this college is the place for you.
  2. Send updated grades.  If you have finished your final semester, go ahead and send in updated grades (especially if they are strong).  This again will show interest, but it will also show the college that you have continued to be a strong student.
  3. Send updates on accomplishments.  This time of year is filled with banquets and award ceremonies.  Were you honored for anything?  Let the college know.  Again, this will help them see how you will contribute to their community.

Some students also submit additional letters of recommendation from teacher’s or their guidance counselor, but colleges would more than likely want to hear directly from you.  While getting of the wait list is a guessing game, students should try and do what they can to get the decision they want.  Colleges will usually inform students by June 1st.  If you don’t hear back by then, you may want to let go and get excited about the other opportunities ahead of you.

Katherine Price

Senior Associate

Katherine Price

About the Author

Katherine has over ten years of professional experience in admissions and student affairs. Most recently, she was Associate Director of Undergraduate Admission at Babson College, in Massachusetts. Prior to her admissions work, Katherine also served various roles in student affairs, both at Babson and at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Katherine earned a Masters in Higher Education Administration from Boston College, and a BA in English from the University of San Diego.

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