The Waitlist | Gradesuccess

Guest Blogger: Kelli MacDonald

You’ve received most of your letters by now: Admit (YAY!), Deny (Ugh…), or Waitlist (Waitlist… I got on the waitlist??). Now what? Most students wait a few more weeks to find out if they will get accepted or not. Don’t sit back and wait – be aggressive and take action!

Why do colleges put students on the dreaded waitlist? In a word: numbers.  The average college-bound high school senior applies to eight colleges.  Take Suzie Q. Assume five colleges admit her and she chooses one. Four colleges now have a spot open for their next waitlisted student.  The only problem is that usually by the time the waitlist opens up, the deposit deadline for other schools has passed. This is where the process gets tricky. Some students will chose from a school they’ve been admitted to and forget about the waitlist schools.  Others, though, have had their sights set on Awesome University and are determined to attend if admitted.  As a College Advisor, I would recommend students put a deposit on the top choice of admitted schools, then follow the plan below to get yourself off the waitlist and admitted. Full or partial deposit refunds are usually available up until a certain date, so even if you put a deposit down, you may not be out all of the money if you don’t end up going to that college. (And while a couple hundred dollars is a big chunk of change, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to tuition. You want to make sure you’ve chosen the correct school for you, otherwise, it will be a long four years.)

Colleges care about action; you have to show that you deserve that spot in their institution and will be a contributing member of the campus community. When you take action, you are in essence taking control of the situation. I always advise students to get moving when it comes to waitlist letters. Write a follow up letter to the admissions counselor who is assigned to your file. You probably have their contact information in the letter or email that told of your waitlist status. This follow up letter should be something like the following:

Dear Ms. Adams,

I received your recent offer to be placed on the waiting list. I was disappointed but remain optimistic that an opportunity to attend Awesome University is still possible.  Awesome University has been and remains my first choice.  Although I have been accepted at several other institutions, my dream to attend Awesome University remains strong.

I have continued to work hard on every level and I have continued to maintain a competitive GPA. In addition to my Physics, English, Anatomy and Physiology I have taken AP Government and Pre-calculus.

My schedule has remained active and full.  I am a Varsity Lacrosse player, but this year there was an upset.  Unexpectedly, our only goalie was gone.  The team needed someone and no one had the skills or the desire to step up.  In January I spoke with coach and told him I will ensure I get training between then and now to assume the position with competence.  I took the challenge, learned the skills, practiced non-stop and I am currently doing very well in the position for our team.  I share this with you to show I am willing to step up. I am not only a student, but also an individual who faces life challenges. I will always strive to do my best in every situation.

I still very much want to attend Awesome University.  I appreciate your consideration in the event that an additional space becomes available.


John Blake

This letter should include information on the following:

  • The activities you’ve participated in since sending your application
  • A re-iteration of your second semester courses
  • An update on your GPA (if it’s good…)
  • Any personal information that may be compelling to an admissions committee (a loss in your family,an award earned from a civic group, your volleyball winning the sectional      tournament, etc)
  • Your interest in attending the university (and how they are your first choice… ALWAYS tell the school they are your first choice!)
  • Good grammar.  Make sure an adult (preferably an English teacher) proofreads the letter before sending.

The letter requesting a move from the waitlist column to the admit column should be upbeat, optimistic, and enthusiastic. Be yourself and be honest; these are two critical pieces that add authenticity to your request!

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