Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?

Admissions Decisions

Our counselors answered:

Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?

No, but I've gotten some off in the past by writing a convincing appeal letter.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?

It varies by college and year. The last few years a number of colleges have not taken any students off their waitlist. Check with the specific college.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?

It varies from school to school and year to year. Schools use the wait list in different ways. Some will place students there so they don't feel as bad as they might if they were denied, but the school knows they will never get to them. In other cases the wait list is very much a list of qualified students the school would have liked to have enroll if the numbers allowed and if the yield--the number of admitted students who decide to come to the college is not what the school anticipates--then they will happily admit those students off the list. Because of yield variations and differing school philosophies how much action the wait list sees can fluctuate greatly from year to year and school to school.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?

Commonly no, but it definitely does happen. Schools have to see how correct their anticipated yield was before they look to the waitlist. Most schools have a really good idea of what percentage of admitted students will enroll which doesn't leave a lot of room for waitlisted students. It is an art not a science however so certain schools in certain years may take more from the waiting list.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora Lewis Consulting

Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?

As with so many things in college admissions, it depends. Some schools don't even maintain wait-lists. Some take several students from the list, some take very few. This is also true of individual schools from one year to the next. A college might take 15 students from the wait-list this year, but next year only take three. Your best bet is not to stress about your chances of turning that wait-list status into admitted. Express your ongoing strong desire to attend the school via a letter, then put your wait-list worry aside and focus on choosing from among the colleges that have already offered you a spot.

Rebecca Joseph
Executive Director & Founder getmetocollege.org

Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?

You may not like this answer, as there is no clear answer to this question. Colleges are increasingly placing kids on longer and longer waitlists. Yet some schools really draw on waitlists, while others rarely go to them. In this competitive era and access to easy online applications, students apply to many colleges. Yet you can only attend one, so while you accept one, you refuse others. That means that spaces open up at those colleges, and there is a trickle down as kids say no to colleges you may want to attend. However, don't hold your breathe. As colleges draw on waitlists, they often look for kids from certain regions or who can pay entirely. It is sad that colleges now waitlist so many kids as the waiting is agony. And the lists are so long as they place some kids on their not to hurt the feelings of their high school or family. So please find happiness with a school that accepted you outright.

Patricia Aviezer
President Inside Track To College, Inc.

Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?

Waitlisted??? Now What? Here is some advice for students on a waitlist from an article where I was quoted in the Washington Post. “Swift action may be required if teens are going after waitlist spots or trying to improve financial aid offers. Make sure to heed all deadlines for notifying admission offices of the desire to remain on a waitlist. The process may not be automatic. Politely ask the following questions of the school: In the past three years, have you gone to your waitlist to admit? If so, how deep? You may have to put a deposit to reserve a spot at one school while waiting to find out whether you make it off the waitlist at another. “Depending on the selectivity of the college, there are years when some colleges do not go to their waitlists,” Aviezer said. “Last year, however, there was a sudden climate change in the number and size of waitlists across the country. Attributed to the increase in applications received by colleges and the jockeying for students that ensued as a result, more students received a waitlisted letter.”

Brittany Maschal
Founder/Director B. Maschal Educational Consulting

Do students commonly get in off the waitlist?

The number of students that are admitted off of the waitlist varies from school to school so you really need to check the data if the school makes it available. In most cases less than 50% and at many schools a very small percentage (think 10% or less) are admitted off of the waitlist. It also varies from year to year depending on a schools enrollment needs. Long story short, if you keep in touch with the school sending them relevant updates and reiterating your interest there is a chance it could happen, but don't count on it (especially if you do nothing once placed on the waitlist).