Colleges can only enroll a certain amount of students every year. When their applicant pool is must bigger than the amount of spaces they have, unfortunately they cannot admit every qualified student. Therefore, they enroll the number of students they think will accept their offers of admission. However, because many things rely on enrolling a certain amount of students, colleges put students on a waitlist just in case they do not reach their enrollment goals.
What does it mean to be on the waitlist?
- You do qualify for admission. Don’t let a waitlist decision make you feel bad about yourself. Colleges that use waitlists typically have smaller acceptance rates. There just is not enough space for all of the qualified students. There is not enough desks, seats, and beds for all of the students who want to attend. The admissions committee had to make hard decisions and it may have come down to something small. Don’t let a waitlist decision get you down.
- Unfortunately, there is no guarantee the college will ever open their waitlist. Remember, the waitlist was created to meet the needs of the college and if they enroll enough students, they won’t have to open up the waitlist to you.
- But, there is still a chance of being admitted later if space becomes available.
What should you do if you’re on the waitlist?
- Accept enrollment at one of the colleges that did offer admission. Waitlist decisions can come any time, and for many colleges, the decision may come after May 1. Don’t lose your chance at admission at another college in case the waitlist college does not come through.
- Learn about your chances of being taken off the waitlist. You can reach out to the admissions office to learn about your chances of admission. Waitlists can be prioritized differently. Some colleges may give students an overall rank, while others will give priority to students based on the college needs. For example, if not enough students with a specific major enroll, the college may be more likely to admit students planning on studying that particular major. Your admissions officer may be able to give you a sense about how the waitlist works at their institution and your chances of being taken off the waitlist.
- Learn about opportunities if you are taken off the waitlist. If a college opens their waitlist, they may not be able to offer admission until the middle of the summer. Will there be financial aid and housing still available? If not, what will you do?
- Notify the college you want to remain on the waitlist. The college may need something in writing saying you want to stay on the waitlist. They may also ask for more information, such as updated grades or an additional recommendation. If you want to be on the waitlist, make sure to follow the instructions to stay on the waitlist.
- Advocate for yourself. Be proactive and reach out to the admissions office to let them know exactly how interested you are in attending the college. Prove you have continued to do well academically by providing an updated transcript. You can also request an interview so the admissions committee can get to know you and your desire to attend the institution.
- Plan to attend another college. Unfortunately many colleges never open their waitlist. Therefore, even if you stay on the waitlist, plan on attending a college that did offer admission. Turn in your enrollment deposit by May 1. Fill out your housing application by the deadline. And, submit all financial aid documents. Get to know this college more and start envisioning yourself at the college. Get excited about the prospect of attending this college and if the waitlist college comes through, great! But, if not, then you have a great alternative that may be even better than the waitlist college.
Being placed on a waitlist is not an ideal situation. Instead of placing all of your hope in the college that may never opens it doors to you, celebrate the acceptance letters you did receive. You can hope the waitlist college will open a spot for you, but put your main focus on the college that is a sure thing.