Guide to US Applications • Undergraduate
Waitlisted? Guidelines on Using This Time Wisely
POSTED ON 04/09/2017 BY The Red Pen
College admissions results are in! Some exciting, some disappointing and some ambiguous.
What do you do if you receive a notification that says you have been placed on a school’s waitlist? It is not an outright rejection but rather a position of uncertainty, which can be unsettling.
Below are some useful guidelines to help you navigate this confusing time. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee you will be taken off the waitlist. However, should the waitlist open up, your new information might make a difference and improve your chances of success.
Here’s what you can do while you’re on the college waitlist:
1) Follow instructions and do what the college has asked you to do:
- If they ask you to tell them whether or not you want to remain on the waitlist, do so immediately.
- If they want additional materials, an updated transcript or new test results, send them what’s required.
- Some colleges ask for a letter from you to outline any updates to your application or explain your passion for the programme. Use this opportunity to highlight your progress. Talk about new awards, extracurricular achievements or community involvement. Make sure you send this information quickly. It is your chance to tip the scales.
2) Ask questions:
If there are no instructions from the college, send an email and express your interest to the relevant person in the admissions office and politely ask what steps you can take to get off the waitlist. They may not always respond with actionable steps, but if they do, follow them. If they don’t respond or respond sparingly, follow the instructions and be careful about over-communicating. Admissions officers are very busy during this time and you don’t want them to remember you for the wrong reasons or as the person who clogged their inbox with desperate pleas.
3) Secure a letter of recommendation, if possible:
If you have a personal relationship with alumni members of the college, a letter of recommendation or a word in the ear of an admissions officer might help at this point. However, only pursue this option with an alumnus who actually knows you and can write an impactful recommendation. Finding a random connection through friends or family will not serve you in the long run, especially if they cannot make a specific case for why your position on the wait list should be re-evaluated.
4) Make it clear that you will attend if admitted:
Waitlists do not move in a consecutive, ranked order. Rather, when a space opens up the admissions office will seek to fill it with candidates who they know are likely to accept the space. They do not want to waste their time or jeopardise their yield by offering the open spot to someone who is uncertain. So, communicate clearly and repeatedly your commitment to attend if admitted from the waitlist. If you are not committed, then perhaps consider removing yourself from the waitlist and moving on with one of your other offers.
Ultimately, the admissions decision is beyond your control. But persistence can sometimes pay off. It is worth making an effort to state your case, especially if the college is one you are deeply committed to attending. Remember, while you are trying to get off the waitlist at one school, you probably have some other schools eager to accept you, so your options are likely to be exciting either way! For more waitlist strategies, get in touch with us