How to Get Off the College Wait List

//How to Get Off the College Wait List

How to Get Off the College Wait List

Each year, many students are disappointed because they are wait listed at a favorite school.  It happens to a lot of students.  A year ago Stanford and Yale each put nearly 1,000 students on wait list.  Duke put more than 3,000…

Why does it happen?  Well in some instances colleges do feel the need to fill quotas.   An we’re  not just talking race or nationality.  Athletes, musicians, artists and scientists… more than anything colleges and universities like to have well-rounded classes.  And sometimes that variety can lead one student to receive acceptance while another equally qualified applicant is sent to the wait list.

There’s also the fact that more students are applying to college these days.  And top schools simply can’t fit all the kids who would like to attend.

But the good news is that those applicants are also applying to a wider variety of schools, which means many of them will decline admission. And that’s when the wait list comes into play.

If you’re on it, you could be next in line for consideration.

Now while the discouragement of not getting into a college right away can cause you to adopt a “there’s nothing I can do about it now” attitude – there are actually a few things you CAN do to turn that wait list spot into a spot on campus in the Fall.

  • If you do get wait listed, respond quickly to the school.  How long it takes you to get back to them is a big indicator of how eager you are to attend if offered admission down the line.
  • If a school is your first choice, make sure the school knows that.  Colleges want students who want them.  There’s no better way to show them that than letting them know they’re #1 on your list.
  • If you receive a new set of grades after you get wait listed, make sure you send them along, provided they’ll help your cause.  A great set of final semester marks can be a real eye opener.
  • If you’ve got a “hook” you can contribute to the class (you’re a great lacrosse player… you’re leading a community service trip… you just got the lead in the spring musical), let them know.  Colleges want students who are going to stand out and contribute something to the school.   Show them what you can bring.
  • If you have a good relationship already with a coach or faculty member at the school, get in touch and ask for advice.  Don’t ask for a favor, because this will likely rub them the wrong way and look like you’re trying for special treatment.  But asking politely for any wisdom they can share on some good ways to get yourself front and center to the admissions committee certainly can’t hurt.
  • Keep in touch but don’t be a pest.  An email or two or a phone call to your admissions contact or recruiter will keep you at the forefront of their mind.  But don’t overdo it.  A little goes a long way here.
  • Make sure the college knows what you can afford to pay.  The wait listing could have been a financial decision.  Be positive they have all your numbers correct and everyone is on the same page money-wise.

Wait listing can certainly be disappointing, especially if it’s coming from a school you’re intent on going to.  But it’s not the end of the world.

Remember, it’s not a “no.”  You may have to do just a bit more work to get to your goal, but that goal is still attainable.


Excerpted from Scott Weingold, College Planning Network, LLC.


By | 2020-09-02T05:37:10-07:00 March 6th, 2012|General Admission Information|Comments Off on How to Get Off the College Wait List