How can you get in off the wait list?

Admissions Decisions

Our counselors answered:

How can you get in off the wait list?

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Getting in Off the Waitlist

Getting in off the waitlist is difficult, but not impossible. I have seen it happen with my students. Here's how they were successful: First of all, make sure that the college knows that if accepted, you will attend. The way to do this is to write to them as soon as you have been waitlisted. Make it a nice communication piece and address it to both the admissions director and the rep assigned to your geographical region. (This person is easy to find; when in doubt, call the admissions office.) During the waitlist period, you may want to inform the college if there has been a significant development such as winning an academic award, getting a lead part in the play, or being named captain of a team. Do not overburden the admissions office, however. A few years ago, one of my students was waitlisted in a top school out of town. During spring break, the student and his mom flew out to the school, toured around, and made an appearance in the admissions office. The officer with whom they spoke took notes, and a few weeks later, he was in! Not all colleges work this way; some wouldn't know what to say if you just showed up.

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!

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Suggestions for moving up from the waitlist

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!

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Wait List Admission Based Soley On Insitutional Needs

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.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Getting Off the Waitlist: It is About Institutional Needs

Waitlists can be tricky. Some schools use them extensively, regularly going to the list to complete their class. However there are others that know their yields well, seldom take candidates from the list, and generally use it only as an alternative to denial for political or alumni related reasons. If a school goes to the waitlist, their choices are usually based on what needs they must fill in the incoming class. For example, if when all the dust has settled and the school sees they have five spots available and but do not yet have someone from a particular state, given their desire to be fully represented geographically, they will see if they have a waitlist candidate from that as yet unrepresented state. And so it goes. In the end there really is not much an applicant can once on the waitlist beyond making sure the school knows that you want to be a part of their community.

Trevor Creeden
Director of College and Career Counseling Delaware County Christian School

How can you get in off the wait list?

If waitlisted, you first need to make sure your name stays on the waitlist. You need to write back to them and tell them that you would like to stay on the waitlist. Over half of a waitlist sometimes will go away because those students don't ask to stay on it. Then it is just a matter of waiting to see when you may get a response from them that you have been accepted off the waitlist. Most of the time, when final decisions come out there are only a couple SAT tests left to take. If your SAT scores are what are keeping you on a waitlist, definitely take it one more time to see if you can bring your score up. Sending them an additional letter and final grades (if they were good) may help but make sure you remind them once a week that you want to stay on it and their school is on the top of your list.

Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

How can you get in off the wait list?

This year more than any other, waitlists are promising to be longer than the number of students admitted to a given college. Rumors about waitlisting as long as 10,000 people. So, what would a person do to get on a waitlist, especially if it’s their first choice school? The first thing that they can do is to call in any connections that they have at a particular school. For example, if a student has interviewed at that school, now is the time to contact the interviewer and remind that – first tell the interviewer how excited they are about the possible idea of attending the school. If the student has taken any summer courses or has taken any other courses with professors at the school, now is the time to get in contact with them. If the student happens to know any alumnus of the school very well who agree that you’re a good fit for them, that is another avenue for finding a way off the waitlist. We hear a lot lately about “demonstrated interests”. This phrase cannot be underestimated at all. Demonstrated interest is one of the major factors college admissions officers take into consideration when choosing their class. Clearly, they want to choose students who they know want to go to their school. The more interest you show, the more likely it is that you move up on the waitlist. You could keep in mind that waitlists are not ordered so you don’t move up or down a waitlist, depending on where you are on it, rather a student can randomly be taken from the waitlist just for any given reason. If any of this sounds too impossible to overcome or to accomplish, then it’s always a good idea to take a second look at some of those schools that may have been first choice had things gone little differently when you’re making your decisions about where to go to college. There is a school for everyone, there is a college for everyone and rarely are students ever upset about the school they end up attending. So, keep your chin high and hope for the best and know as with everything else in life that it will work out. Perhaps this will be one of your first life lesson in how to cope with finding your way when you’re not sure how to get there.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

How can you get in off the wait list?

First, contact the admissions office to see if you can learn where your application fell short. Address those issues in a letter, expressing your continued interest in the institution. If they offer interviews and you didn't have one yet, by all means try to schedule an appointment. Quite possibly it is your transcript that is a concern; all the more reason to not slack off senior year and definitely send along your grades as soon as they are available. Whatever you do, don't badger the admissions office, don't stalk them on facebook, remind yourself that everything happens for a reason and this is why you applied to other schools. Good luck!

Ted Skowron
Counselor Brophy College Preparatory

How can you get in off the wait list?

If you really want to attend the school, ask your Counselor to call the institution on your behalf. You should also follow up with a call to admissions and let the admission rep know of your intent to attend that school. I would also recommend that you ask whether they could share information regarding the "wait list" from last year, I.e. How many students got off it, etc. This may help you to get a realistic sense of where you stand.

Patty Finer

How can you get in off the wait list?

There is some confusion from students and their families who had their applications "deferred" in the early round and unclear about what to do going forward. If you are a senior with this problem here is a deferral plan we on how to appraoch these issues beginning in December when students hear from early admissions colleges and universities. If you have been deferred from your early school, take a deep breath and take action as you must be proactive. If you simply do nothing, chances are you will not get in. Here is a plan of action you can take.: January Focus on your grades! The biggest reason for a deferral is mediocre grades senior fall – cut out your extras and focus on GRADES. All A’s will help. Retake the SAT or SAT Subject Tests on January 28th if that was a problem area (you can always go standby if you’ve not yet registered). If you don’t do better, just don’t send the new scores and no one will see them. If you do better, RUSH them to all your schools. Are there any awards or competitions awards or competitions you can enter or have won and not yet reported to the college? Any concrete accomplishment will be brought up down the line. Have you followed up with any professors at the college that you had spoken to? Let them know your plight and enlist their help. Call (or email) the admissions office a few days after you receive the deferral letter and speak with your admissions officer – the person who covers your area or who you interviewed with or if you are a minority student, the minority representative. Tell him or her how disappointed you are, how much you like the school, and ask what else you can do. LISTEN to any clues he or she might give you in the conversation. It’s important YOU make this call NOT your parents. We had one student discover that by not visiting her early school she was at a disadvantage. She immediately made plans to visit. Ask your guidance counselor to call both to support you, and to find out anything about WHY – any missing items? Tough year? Huge rise in applicants? School support is critical. Ask a senior year teacher to write you a letter of support. If you happen to know the headmaster/principal of your current school well, you can ask him/her to call or write on your behalf. February By the last week in February, you want to write a “deferral letter” stressing the following info: Anything NEW -- grades, scores, awards, prizes, etc... -- Since my deferral, I ... (Don’t waste space with insignificant achievements as that would only weaken your case.) Have your school send your updated transcript including all new grades. Any interesting extracurricular additions, achievements, etc... Anything else that is interesting you didn't mention elsewhere. An impassioned paragraph on WHY the school is still your first choice - summarize and stress WHAT YOU WOULD ADD to the college campus. Don’t forget to use the heading you used on all of your essays which includes your DOB, Name, High School and last 4 digits of your SS # (ie: xxx-xx-1234). March In early March, CALL again and speak to your regional admissions officer to touch base, ask if he/she got the letter, stress how it’s your first choice, and mention a few notable accomplishments (I pulled my grades up to all A’s and had the best quarter of my high school career…). You can email if they do not accept calls. Some final advice: If you have any strings to pull, now is the time to pull them. While we want you to advocate for yourself, don’t become a pest. You don’t want to stalk the admission office. Don’t let this deferral erode your confidence. Keep focused and remember that the odds these past few years have been at all time lows and you stood out enough not to be rejected.