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?

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

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

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!

Renee Boone
The College Advisor

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

Re-evaluate your choices. Given responses from other colleges, should this deferred or wait-listed college remain on your list? If not, reply to the college with a brief note of thanks, declining the offer. If you do want to keep the college on your list, reply with a brief statement describing why this college is your top choice (or among your top choices). Give any new (new, not rehashed!) information that is important since the filing of your application and thank the review committee for their continued consideration.

Dr. Bruce Neimeyer
CEO/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

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

Wait list is certainly better than the deny letter. The wait list is to be used by schools to let student know that they are admissible to the school but there isn't enough room or spots in the class to admit all those students who applied and were academically admissible. So the good news is that they think you could handle the academic challenges there. The bad news is that MANY well qualified students applied and that is what is keeping you out at the moment. I indicate to students that it is important to recognize the receipt of the wait list offer. Thank the college for the offer and submit any new or updated academic achievements you may have gotten since the time of your original application. Also let the college know your specific interest in attending the school. Make sure it clearly states why you feel their program and your academic interest are a perfect match. If you have nothing more to add to your application, a simple thank you is important. As you wait on this list however, it is important to look at your other schools to which you were admitted and begin to more fully consider those options. In some instances, my students have come to the conclusion that their second or third choice was probably best all along so don't waste your time dreaming of your wait list school. Move forward with the options on the table and if you are admitted off the wait list you can cross that bridge when it comes.

Eric Beers, Ph.D.
College and Career Counselor Air Academy High School

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

Definitely follow the directions spelled out in the waitlist letter. If you are still interested, please let the college know that. If you are not, let them know that as well. If you have any increase in your grades, test scores, extracurricular performance, honors/awards, be sure to forward those to the college for consideration. Also if you have one more letter of recommendation, that says something differently than your other ones, send that in as well. If it says the same things as your other ones, I wouldn't send it. Also, start opening up your perspective to other possibilities than this one school. Start seriously looking at the other schools that you did get accepted into!

Kris Hintz
Founder Position U 4 College LLC

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

A deferral or a wait list notification is now a long shot option. It is best to emotionally de-invest and move on to Plan B.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

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

Being waitlisted or deferred does not mean that you will not eventually be admitted to the college/university which has delayed your admission. I have worked with students who were, in fact, admitted to universities off of waitlists. I would say, however, that you should consider your chances of being admitted as being somewhat diminished. Your potential admission will hinge on your place on the waitlist, as well as on the number of admitted students who DON'T accept the institution's initial offers of admission. Those non-acceptances will determine how many students the institution will be able to admit off of the waitlist. I would suggest that you turn your attention and enthusiasm to the other institutions to which you applied, remembering that there WAS a reason that you applied to them in the first place. All of your applications should have been to schools that you would be happy to attend. When you receive acceptances, rejoice in them, but when you receive denials, don't internalize it. Applying to universities is, in many cases, an extremely competitive proposition, and being denied is not a reflection on you as a person but more of an indicator of the number of equally qualified applicants to a given institution. It's hard not to be disappointed at admission denials, but if you consciously focus on your acceptances, you should be able to master the situation. What about a worst-case scenario in which you are not accepted at any of the institutions to which you have applied? That would be an extremely upsetting situation, but don't let it throw you off track for long. You might want to consider one of the following options: - Apply to other schools which have rolling (ongoing) admissions. Some of these schools are still able to accept students into the summer months. - Make plans for a gap-year. Do volunteer work somewhere in the world, gain work experience while earning money to pay for college, go to another country to learn a foreign language, etc., etc. etc. There are many things you could do which would broaden your experience and which would be extremely rewarding for you. I wish you luck with your applications - or with other plans which you ultimately make!

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

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

Rather than go off half cocked, talk to a professional & get some free advice. If the school is that important, perhaps hiring someone to appeal on your behalf would be worth it. But remember, they prepare the letter - you sign it!

Kathleen Harrington
Owner New Jersey College Consulting

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

If you receive word from a college that you have been waitlisted or deferred, you should continue to correspond with the school to show your genuine interest in attending. In addition to emailing admissions explaining your continued desire to attend and to update the school on your academic/extracurricular progress, you should also pick up the phone and contact admissions personally. If an interview is offered by local alumni or by admissions themselves, plan on scheduling time to sit down and articulate all that you could contribute to the college campus while completing your undergraduate studies. Many students take a WL or DF as a rejection and could not be more inaccurate about either status. Keep in mind, the admissions team would love to accept all students who want to attend their prestigious institution however, that is not a reality. Think of it this way, a rejection letter is the end of the road while a WL or DF letter is a continued journey towards a possible acceptance. Be sure to continue to show genuine interest in the school and continue to do well in your academic studies and extracurricular activities.

Chris Powers
College Counselor and Philosophy Teacher Powers College Counseling

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

The best to handle a waitlist or deferral is to consider it a maybe. You have to let them know you are still interested. Following up with a school with new awards, new accomplishments, or a new grades can be really helpful.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora Lewis Consulting

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

First, don't let it get you down. Being wait-listed usually means that you met all of the college's admission criteria and were an excellent candidate, but they just didn't have the space to admit you. But since you can't know the reasons you were put on the wait-list, it's not worth wasting energy trying to figure it out. If you want to remain on the school's wait-list, let them know by responding to their offer. If you're extremely interested in attending the school, send them a brief, thoughtful letter expressing your continued desire to attend and letting them know about any NEW information or accomplishments that was not included on your application. Talk up what you've been doing during senior year and show them that you're finishing senior year with the same commitment and enthusiasm that you hope to bring to their campus in the fall. It varies a great deal from year to year and from college to college how many people are admitted off the wait-list. Give it your best shot, but don't hold your breath. Put your time and energy into choosing the best option from among the colleges to which you were officially admitted. One of them will more than likely turn out to be the school of your dreams.