College Applicant Waitlisted: Now What?

College Applicant Waitlisted: Now What?
  • Opening Intro -

    You have applied to the college of your dreams or at least to one school that is among your top considerations for attending.

    Just when you are expecting notification, you receive a thin letter from the school. Uh, oh. It looks like you have been turned down.


Not every thin letter received from a college signifies rejection, so read the letter carefully. You may have received a totally different one — neither rejection or acceptance — rather, one that has informed you that you have been placed on a waiting list.

Take heart, you have not been turned down by your college. Instead, if a seat opens up, you will be accepted and free to decide for that school. Here is what you need to know about your status.

1. Contact the college. Get in touch with the college’s admission department to determine how the wait list process works. Likely, they spelled that information out in their letter to you, but that does not mean that you do not have some questions for which answers can only come from the college. The school may be willing to tell you how many students are wait listed and where you are in the process. Generally, as other students decide not to attend the school you will be moved up the list. Colleges and universities want to fill seats and will immediately go to the waiting list to extend a formal acceptance when they can.

2. Talk about yourself. If you are clearly disappointed about being wait listed, there is something you may be able to do about it. Specifically, you can campaign on your behalf. Without coming across as a snob or a pain in the neck, write a letter to the admissions office to explain why you should be considered. You may need to clarify your extracurricular work especially if something has changed since you applied. The updated information may work to your advantage, so use it.

3. Wait and look elsewhere. Once you have exhausted your options, then plan to wait the process out. Waiting, however, does not mean that you are not doing anything. What it does mean is that you’re continuing to maintain your good grades, participating in extracurricular activities and completing your community service work. You’re also reviewing your other acceptance letters and making campus visits. Your parents can help you here as well by discussing your options including looking beyond the college where you are wait listed.

Moving Forward

Some colleges wait list students well into the summer. This can be unnerving for students who may worry that they’ll miss out starting school with their class. Your option here is to choose another school, one that that may not be your top choice, but is a good choice for you nevertheless. Keep in mind that if most wait listed students are admitted, then you may not have anything to worry about. However, if the percentages are generally very low, then taking your second option may be your wisest decision.

See AlsoYou’ve Been Wait-listed. Now What?


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Categories: College Search