So, your application has been waitlisted. Now what?
A waitlist decision is never what you were hoping for and can be more confusing than a clear-cut deny decision. Below are some next steps to take and tips on how to handle a waitlist decision.
Waitlists Aren’t Really “Lists”
First, it is important to understand how colleges’ waitlists operate. The term “waitlist” gives the impression that colleges rank students in order of preference and offer admission based on availability to those at the top. This is not the case: a better term for a waitlist is a “wait pool”, where a pool of applications remains waiting for a final decision based on available space. Because of this, there is no need to “check where you are on the waitlist” because it is not a true list.
Follow the School’s Instructions
Review your decision letter to see what steps the college wants you to take. Colleges will often request students to fill out a form or send an email indicating their interest in remaining on the waitlist. If you are interested, you should reply to this invitation promptly. After officially accepting your invitation to the waitlist, colleges may request additional information like your final high school grades to render a final decision. Keep an eye out on your email or applicant portal should colleges need anything else from you.
More is not always better, however. Be sure to follow the school’s directions exactly, including refraining from sending in extra or unwanted materials. If a college asks not to send in supplemental letters of recommendation, then don’t send one in!
Get Excited About Other Schools
Ultimately, your focus should be on the schools you’ve been accepted to. While being added to a waitlist has become more common in recent years, being admitted off of the waitlist is still relatively rare. There are no guarantees that you will hear good news from your waitlisted school, so focusing on colleges where you have a spot will get you excited about the next chapter in your life!
Colleges will often have a final notification date—or the final date when they notify students on waitlists of their decisions—in mid-summer when they will officially close the waitlist. After this point, no more students will be admitted to the class for that year.
If you are admitted off the waitlist to another school, consider the same factors like admitted academic program, location, cost, campus life, and student engagement to decide whether to attend. Remember that most enrollment deposits are non-refundable if you are admitted after the May 1st National Candidate Reply Date.
Questions about your waitlist decision? We’re always happy to talk!