What is the best way to handle getting waitlisted or deferred?

Admissions Decisions

Our counselors answered:

What is the best way to handle getting waitlisted or deferred?

Mollie Reznick
Associate Director The College Connection

What is the best way to handle getting waitlisted or deferred?

If you are deferred or wait-listed by a school and it is still your top choice there are a few things you can do which might affect your acceptance. Firstly, if your application was early decision, you still have some time to bring your grades up, and you can certainly have your updated transcript sent to the school. Additionally, you should write a letter (coming from you, and not your parents) to the admissions office stating that that school is still your top choice, and if accepted you would attend. You can also use this letter as an opportunity to update the school on what you have been up to for the last couple of months and any accomplishments you have made both in and out of school.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Wait Listed? Deferred? Let Them Know You Remain Interested

Waitlists and deferrals are very different. A deferral says the school needs more time before making a decision. It wants to what its whole applicant pool looks like and it may also want to see another round of grades from the applicant. The waitlist on the other hand may, in fact be a final decision, for if the school’s yield is strong, it may not need to go the waitlist and even when it does the choices it makes are usually based on the needs they must fill in the incoming class. However, in both cases applicants can continue to send updates about any new achievement, new scores, etc. It can never hurt so long as the updates are substantive and respectful. The commitment and desire will be noted and could pay off, but the ball is in the school’s court.

Francine Schwartz
Founder/ President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

To wait or not to wait....that is the question

The best way to handle this situation is to move forward with applying or evaluating your second and third choices. All students should have several "foundation" schools where they are at or above the mean 50% of students who were accepted to last year's class, several "expected schools" where they fall in the mid range of accepted students and several "dream schools" where they sit slightly below the mean 50% of accepted students. When choosing a balanced list students should be comfortable attending any of the schools because that is where they very well may end up. If you wind up getting selected for your wait listed school so much the better but if not you may just fall in love with your second or third choice and realize it was the best for you all along! Francine Schwartz M.A., LPC, NCC Founder and President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

Managing Waitlisted or Deferred Notices

The best way is to first of all not feel that something is lacking in you, know that you did not get the "no thanks letter". Now that we feel good we keep working, contiue to apply, I typically recommend that my students choose their top five schools and apply as early as possible (usually early action because it is non-binding) if their number one school is binding then we first make sure they exceed the criteria for getting in and with a concious awareness make the decision to apply to the one school know that if they are not admitted, then we will work hard in December to get the other schools on their lists applied to. So if you apply to 5 and you know by New Years your status and you are waitlisted or deferred for the one you really want simply wait to see if they offer you admission, it is not as if you were not admitted into your other choices (we assume) you have until Spring to confirm acceptance and they will let you know in a reasonable time which way your status changed. If admitted jump for joy if you still want to go, if not jump for joy because you have other options that are still great.

Jeana Robbins

What is the best way to handle getting waitlisted or deferred?

Don't get discouraged. It's important to have a back up plan.

Eric Chancy
School Counselor Apex High School - 9-12

What is the best way to handle getting waitlisted or deferred?

Ramp it up! Kick your grades into high gear, and get prepped for another standardized test, depending on what the school has told you it wants to see. After all, your grades might be fine for admission, but the SAT or ACT just isn't impressing admissions, and the reverse could also be true. It doesn't hurt for you to be proactive and contact the school, asking if there is some specific information you can provide that will be helpful in rendering their decision. Hint, Hint: Whatever you give them needs to be highly skewed in your favor!!!

Kathryn March
Educational and Career Consultant Kathryn March, M.S., CEP

What is the best way to handle getting waitlisted or deferred?

If you are deferred or waitlisted at the college of your choice, you must continue to demonstrate interest in that school. If you are deferred that means you will be considered in a later admission round. In the meantime, you should submit any evidence of academic, extracurricular or personal success that may not have been submitted with your original application. You should also contact the admission office and thank them for informing you that you have been deferred and for considering your application a second time. If you are waitlisted, you will be asked if you would like to remain on the waitlist. If this school is still your top choice then, obviously, the answer will be yes. You should then make contact with the admission office and, if possible, the admission representative for your geographic area, and reiterate your interest in the school and confirm that it is your first choice. Additionally, submit any other evidence of achievement or success, including current grades, an additional recommendation letter, or honors awarded. A follow-up phone call asking if they have received the materials and if there is any additional information you can provide would be appropriate. In the meantime, you should also continue learning about your other school options and think about how you could best thrive in another college, even if it hasn't been your very first choice.

meredith bracco
Director Educational Opportunities Consulting, LLC

What is the best way to handle getting waitlisted or deferred?

If you've been waitlisted at a school that you know you don't want to go to, don't waste any time informing that school because you could get a spot that someone else really wants. If you want to stay on the wait list, reach out to the admissions officer assigned to your area and convey your enthusiasm that this is your first choice. Don't be afraid to ask the admissions officer for advice, but don't pester, and definitely don't have your parents call for you. In the meantime, keep your grades up and send any accomplishments that are significant. This should be something truly substantial, not just another letter of recommendation. Don't get discouraged! I don't doubt how disappointing it will feel if you don't get in to your first choice. But if the list of colleges is a thoughtful one, there's more than one good choice on that list. The common denominator in this whole equation is you. You are the only one who can make your college experience great. Take advantage of the incredible opportunity that's in front of you. If you do that, you'll thrive.

Carol Morris
Regional Director of Admissions Southern Methodist University

What is the best way to handle getting waitlisted or deferred?

Even though it hurts not to be admitted to a school you like, remember that they deferred or wait listed you because they felt you would be a good addition to their community, if only they had room! If this is a school you truly want to attend, let them know it! Send a letter emphasizing your continued strong interest, and if you absolutely intend to show up in August if they admit you, tell them that, too. Meanwhile, keep your grades up, and if you suspect that test scores were part of the reason you didn't get in at first, consider re-taking them to give yourself a chance to look a bit more competitive. Finally, be patient. Wait lists can linger into the summer, and sometimes the students who are still hanging on at the end (most eventually drop off and commit emotionally to other schools) are ones who end up with a place when the school needs to fill the last few places in their class.

Patricia Aviezer
President Inside Track To College, Inc.

What is the best way to handle getting waitlisted or deferred?

What should you do if you receive a “Waitlist Letter?” You want to ask yourself these questions: 1. Should I remain on their waitlist? 2. Do I want to put in the extra effort it will take to let them know 3. I’m really interested in them? If your answer is no, write them a nice letter declining to remain on their waitlist. Other questions you might ask yourself? 1. Am I going to allow this “bad news” to dampen my motivation to continue to apply to other colleges? 2. Should I place a deposit on a school that has accepted me, even if it’s not my first choice? 3. Should I do nothing and wait for them to accept me? Playing the Odds The Odds Are Against Getting In, so you need to move forward as though this is a rejection. Why? Because experience has shown that there are years when some colleges NEVER go to their waitlist for a candidate! Now, here are the questions you have the right to ask the college, according to the National Association of College Admissions Counselors: 1. How many students have been on the waitlist in the past? 2. How many were offered admission? 3. What kind of housing and financial aid was available for students who were accepted later? 4. What are the major obstacles to you being selected? Best advice, don't get stuck here, keep going and file those other applications!