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Waitlist-Now What?

The college application process is full of stress and anxiety. After weeks of work putting together the application package and essays students sometimes wait months to receive an answer from their colleges. Obviously acceptance at your top college choice is the result every student hopes for and if that answer comes it is time to celebrate.  However, for those students who are waitlisted at their first choice college the anxiety and stress can be amplified and the student may feel like they are in limbo as they try to plan for their future.  We have some tips for how students and parents can weather the waitlist and feel proactive.

1. Be cautiously optimistic

Colleges admit less than 30% of the students on their waitlist and highly selective schools are even less. Your waitlist letter may offer some information about your position in the waitlist pool but if it does not you should contact the admission office to find out if there is a priority ranking and where you fall. No matter your position on the waitlist you should send a deposit and reserve your spot at a college you want to attend even though you may lose that deposit if you get in off the waitlist.

2. Be Proactive.

If you really want to attend your waitlisted college, let your admissions counselor know.  Email admissions with your desire to remain on the waitlist and attend the college.  Also, include an update on what you have accomplished since your application was submitted and why you still believe this college is the right fit for you.  Your communication should be professional and concise but personal.  Be careful not to become a pest and be sure that your communication contains relevant information about you and your desire to attend that university.  Consider offering another letter of recommendation from someone who did not previously provide one with your application.

3.  Keep Working.

This is not the time to get Senioritis. Assuming you were waitlisted because you were not quite as competitive as other applicants, continuing to challenge yourself and achieve high grades can be persuasive to admissions. Keep in regular contact with your admissions officer when you have accomplished something you feel may be persuasive, like bringing up a 1st semester B to a 2nd semester A. 

4.  Don’t get stuck in waitlist limbo.

Plan to attend another college and put your heart into it.  You don’t know when or if you are getting off the waitlist, but what you do know that come fall you will be in college. So enjoy this time and try to look at it as a win-win scenario.  You may get into your dream school off the waitlist or you will be attending a great school that is right for you in the fall.  If the dream school remains your goal you can always consider transferring after freshman year.

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