What to Do If You’re on the Waitlist

As you hear the decisions on your college admissions applications throughout your senior year, you may receive word that you’ve been placed on a school’s waitlist. Neither a “yes” nor a “no,” the waitlist allows a college to delay your admissions decision, along with the decision for several other student applicants. Waitlists can include hundreds of students, and no one knows from year to year how many students, if any, will be accepted off a particular college’s waitlist.

If you’ve been placed on a waitlist, be patient. The school could contact you as late as August with notification of their decision. But in the meantime, there are still some things you can do to let the college know you’re still interested. Take action by following our tips below.

• Write an email or letter to the admissions representative responsible for your application. You can find the name of that person by checking the college’s admissions webpage, or calling the office. Stress your continued interest in the school, and if the college is your top choice, include that in your note.
• Maintain a strong GPA throughout your senior year. Some admissions offices won’t make decisions on the waitlist until the summer. You’ll want to show that you worked hard academically up until graduation.
• Keep the college updated on any new awards or honors you receive inside or outside of the classroom, including athletic medals, academic prizes, or even a promotion at your part-time job.
• Check in periodically. Every few weeks, give the admissions office a call to let them know that you’re still hoping for an acceptance.
• Make sure you submit a deposit by May 1st to one of the colleges where you’ve been accepted. This is important. If you don’t end up admitted to your waitlisted school, you’ll want to make sure you’ve secured a place in the freshman class elsewhere. Keep in mind that these deposits are usually non-refundable.

Being placed on a college’s waitlist can be frustrating. But after taking the steps we’ve outlined above, focus your energy on learning more about the schools where you’ve been accepted. Even if you don’t receive an eventual acceptance from your waitlist school, you likely have some other great options for freshman year. Explore the many positive attributes and benefits of these colleges – you’ll be reminded why they made your list in the first place, and the many reasons why one of these schools may just be your perfect fit.