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Wait Lists: What Steps to Take

After two or more years of college planning, taking tests, attending college fairs, visiting campuses, writing essays, participating in interviews, applying to colleges, you have finally heard from all your colleges and universities. Hopefully, you have received lots of good news. However, if you are like most high school seniors, you have received some acceptances, a few rejections, and perhaps you are on a waitlist or two. Outlined below are some suggestions and recommendations on what to do if you find yourself on a waitlist.

Celebrate Your Success! There is nothing like that feeling of being accepted by one or more colleges or universities. This is true, even if those colleges were not at the top of your lists. It is just nice to feel wanted. So, enjoy the moment and give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it! That waitlist letter is something to celebrate too. It means that the admissions staff have every confidence in your ability to succeed at their institution. They simply don’t have enough room for everyone who wants to attend.

Put any Disappointments Behind You! Think positive! You have every reason to be proud of your accomplishments, both in high school and in the college admission process. So, focus on your successes not your disappointments. When you are a sophomore or junior in college, you will no longer care about those schools and may even find it difficult to remember where you applied and what the outcomes were. You will be so invested in the college or university you are then attending that you will no longer care about the others. So, hold your head up high and prepare to move on.

What to Do about that Waitlist? – You may or may not find yourself on a waitlist at one or more colleges. If you are waitlisted, and if you are still interested in that institution, you will need to follow the instructions on how to confirm that you want to remain on the waitlist. If you are no longer interested, you can either notify them of that decision or take no action at all. If no action is taken, the college will probably remove you from the waitlist on their own.

Is Your Waitlist School Your First Choice? Students and parents often ask about what they can do to get off the waitlist and onto the admitted list. The truth is that, typically, only a few students are admitted from the waitlist. One thing that might help is to let the admissions officers know if there is any significant new information about you which was not known when your application was evaluated. Perhaps, after applying, you won a major award or you were recognized for a special accomplishment. That kind of information should certainly be shared with admissions.

Do Waitlist Admits Receive Scholarships? One possible downside of being admitted from a waitlist is that it may not come with a scholarship offer. Often, colleges have used up all or most of their merit scholarship money by the time they go to their waitlists. As a result, you may be expected to pay full tuition, or close to it, unless you qualify for financial aid from the federal government. Because admissions officers do not want to disappoint applicants by offering admission to a student who can’t afford to attend, they often make the first calls to students with the lowest financial need. So, if your family’s financial situation is stronger than may have been evident on the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile and, if you would (and could) attend your waitlist school regardless of the cost, make sure the admissions officers know that. It could make a difference in whether or not you receive a call to fill a waitlist offering.

Be Prepared to make a Quick Decision! When admissions officers go to their waitlist, their goal is to fill as many waitlist openings as quickly as possible. You may be given just 24 hours to make your decision. So, think ahead and be ready to act.

What Do Admissions Officers Tell Their Own Children Who are Waitlisted? One admissions officer said, “I told my high school senior to fall in love with a college that loves you!” Regardless of how you feel about being on a waitlist and whatever you decided to tell them about staying on the list or not, it is best to move on with other plans. Choose another college and send them a deposit so you are guaranteed a seat in college in the fall.

Don’t Postpone the Inevitable – Many students find it very difficult to make the final decision on which college to attend by May 1st of their senior year. Some will actually pay deposits to hold places in two or more colleges. This may be a necessary step for some who have special circumstances. However, it is not a good financial strategy for most, and it is not really fair to the institutions involved or to other students who may be hoping to get into one of those schools to which you have double deposited. Double depositing is likely to be a waste of money which would be better spent on those expensive textbooks you will be purchasing in August or September. So, develop a strategy for making your decision and follow through with that plan in time to meet your May1st deadline.

Congratulations on your acceptances and for all the work you invested over the past four years in order to achieve those positive admission decisions. You obviously have a successful future ahead of you and you are to be commended for all your accomplishments to date. You have four great years ahead in the pursuit of your bachelor’s degree. So work hard and enjoy the ride. The best is yet to come.

For more information about college planning, contact School Choice International at, or (914) 328 – 3000.

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