How can you get in off the wait list?

Admissions Decisions

Our counselors answered:

How can you get in off the wait list?

Pam Proctor
Author The College Hook

How can you get in off the wait list?

Here is my video response to the question.

Beth Wiser
Director of Admissions University of Vermont

How can you get in off the wait list?

Here is my video response to the question.

Richard Nesbitt
Director of Admissions Williams College

How can you get in off the wait list?

Here is my video response to the question.

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Getting in Off the Wait List

This is a topic which is near to me, having affected my family and my students in the last few years. The first thing a student and his or her family need to know is that while getting in off a wait list is possible, it is not likely. Colleges have been known to maintain very large wait lists because it is sometimes difficult to estimate actual yield. That said, I always want my students to shoot high, and that includes not giving up hope if they really want to attend a school at which they are wait listed. The first thing the student needs to do is return the wait list card or form and, at the same time, write a heartfelt note explaining how much they love the college and would attend if accepted. (Sometimes it's not possible to say this if financial aid is uncertain.) This should be addressed to the dean of admission and the admissions rep from the geographic area. If there are any notable circumstances that occur during the wait list period such as honors and awards, the student needs to notify the admissions office. People talk about colleges' secret formulas for assigning various priorities to the wait list. The student will rarely know those details if that is indeed the case. Students should always make sure that they've left a deposit at their second-choice school. Hopefully, all these situations will have a happy ending.

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

Follow-up information can be key

For all of my clients who have been deferred or wait-listed, I advise them to send a letter to the admissions office. This letter is a way or confirming their continued enthusiasm for the school as well as providing any new information that might impact their admissions decision. The letter could include any new clubs, leadership, awards and/or honors. It might not be a bad idea to send an additional recommendation letter and/or an additional essay or writing sample. You need to convey to the college that you are a strong applicant and would be likely to enroll if accepted.

Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

Be prepared for April - tips for surviving the college crunch

April is a month of colliding forces when it comes to the lives of high school seniors heading to college in the fall. Applications are in, acceptances or rejections are appearing in mailboxes, AP exams are looming and as all these elements converge, the transition to adulthood becomes more of a reality with each passing day. The amount of stress in this final leg of the race would be enough to put anyone off their game, so here are a few tips for graduating seniors to help manage and enjoy life during the home stretch. 1. Understand You're Not the Only One April isn’t just a preview for the changes in your own life, but you also get to observe those of your friends firsthand. The admissions process is more difficult and confusing than ever before, and there will be inevitable rewards and disappointments for everyone involved. Anyone who’s been there for a friend in need or a friend with something to celebrate knows how emotionally draining it can be. To avoid being pulled in all directions and losing focus on your own life, at this critical juncture prepare two simple and sincere responses to either outcome. Compliment the hard work and dedication of your peers who were admitted to the college of their choice – the truth is, they earned it. Comfort your friends who missed out on the big envelope by reiterating how random the admissions process can be, and how hard work is rewarded in life, regardless of where you got your degree – the truth is, in many cases, it doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you make the most of it. Being a source of either sincere comfort or praise will allow you to be there for your friends while not getting drawn into anyone’s drama but your own. 2. Make an Informed Decision Hopefully, come envelope day, your mailbox will overflow with fat acceptance letters from schools that are fighting for your attendance. Obviously something about each of these schools attracted you, or you wouldn’t have wasted the time and money applying. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and see which institution will make you happiest in terms of atmosphere and academics. Find out which of your choices offers institutional days for accepted students, allowing them to visit, go to class and get acclimated. Go on a weekday, attend some freshman lectures, and try to spend the night at a dorm, if possible. These sorts of visits provide much more insight into a college than a simple summer campus tour or an admissions office pitch. They’re experiences that will really help you decide which school is the best place to spend the next four years of your life. 3. Be Proactive About the Waiting List First thing to know about the waiting list - it's not over yet. While some view the notification that they’ve been wait listed as simply a brief reprieve until the inevitable “Thank you for your application, but…” letter, there are some tried and true methods of turning a spot on the waiting list into a spot on the acceptance list. When you’re wait-listed, the first thing to remember is that you have not been rejected. You still have a chance to prove yourself to admissions officers, so grab it. First, find out who handled the applications from your school, and contact them. Introduce yourself and explain what high school you attend, so you can make sure they can pull your file and have it on hand. Then let them know that you were happy to be put on the waiting list because it means you still have a chance to be offered admittance. Make it clear that their school is still your first choice by far and that you’re even willing to sacrifice the deposit on your second choice, should you be taken off the wait list after May 1st. In conclusion, tell the officer they can expect a letter from you in the near-future explaining in greater detail why you should be accepted. Try to put it on your school’s letterhead and print it on bonded paper. Repeat that their institution is your first choice, that you are willing to give up a deposit on your second choice should it come to that, then start to hit on the two to three points on your resume that really make you stand out. Maybe you even know an alumnus of the school that will speak up on your behalf. It wouldn’t hurt to include a short missive from them. It’s important they know what they’ll be missing if they reject you. Send the letter by e-mail and snail mail personally to the admissions officer with whom you spoke. Finally, relax. Take a deep breath and rest easy knowing you’ve been proactive and done everything possible to gain admission to your dream school. 4. Fight for Financial Aid Admission is one thing, attendance is another. There are many schools today that are prohibitively expensive, and in this economy, financial aid is going to be difficult to come by regardless of how worthy the applicant. But if you receive an insufficient offer, don’t fret. You still have some bargaining power. The school admitted you for a reason, and they won’t want to lose you, which will make them, at the very least, approachable when it comes to aid issues. Make full use of this fact, and perhaps let them know that you’ve received a better offer from their rival. Most colleges will work hard to help you attend if it means they can keep a worthy candidate from a competitors. If your situation has worsened significantly this year, it could certainly make a difference. Make your chosen school aware of any change in your family’s finances, and support your claims with the proper documentation. Just remember, your biggest bargaining chip is that you were accepted – they want you, so take advantage of that fact Following these tips will give you the tools to make your last April as a high school student more sentimental than stressful and allow the rest of the journey to higher education run as smoothly as possible.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

Demonstrate Continued Interest and Cross Your Fingers

If you decide to remain on a school's waitlist, be sure to let them know of your decision. Once you have done this, you might want to write the admissions committee a letter informing them of any new (and relevant) developments in your life. After that -- the ball's in their court, and there's not much you can do. Don't bake cookies and send them to the school. Don't e-mail your regional admissions officer every day/week asking them for updates. Why? Well -- bombarding admissions officers with desperate-sounding emails and baked goods just don't work. Remember that application that you sent off in the winter? THAT'S what they'll be looking at if they decide to re-visit your application -- not your scary emails and double fudge brownies!

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Institutional Needs Drive Wait List

Determinations about wait list activity are driven solely by the needs of an individual institution. Wait list activity varies wildly because both the timing and number of wait list admissions depends upon enrollment decisions made by admitted students. Wait lists enable enrollment managers to secure class sizes with pinpoint accuracy. From year to year, it is impossible to predict the likelihood of admission for students who have earned a position on the wait list. To put yourself in the best possible position, provide colleges with new academic information (updated grades) and a sincere expression of interest.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Trying to successfully move off the wait list

If your first choice college has wait listed you, you need to write the admissions office a letter and state that you definitely want to stay on the wait list. If you will attend the school if you are given the opportunity, you should say so very clearly. If you think that you will be a good addition to the campus, then explain why. If there are new achievements that you have managed during the spring of your senior year, then you should mention them. This is your last chance to add another dimension to your application. After you have sent the letter, then relax and start to discover the great things about your second choice school--and do not forget to make the deposit at that school! If you do move off the wait list then do not forget the inform the school to which you have already given your deposit that you will not be matriculating there. This will allow one of your peers to move off of that school's wait list to take your spot!

Erica White
College & Career Counselor Middletown High School

Update your information as needed...

If you get waitlisted, I would send a letter to the admissions office and let them know you are still interested in their school and would like to remain on the waitlist. Some schools, take you off the waitlist, unless they hear from you. I would continue to stay involved in activities and community service. If you join a new club or recieve any new awards I would send an email or a letter to the admissions office notifying them. I would also send 3rd quarter grades to show your academic strengths.