It’s the time of the year again when many colleges are making admissions decisions and sometimes the answer is the wait list. When a student is wait listed the college is telling the student that they are not admitted but if not enough students who have been accepted decide to attend, then the student on the wait list may be accepted.
The wait list helps colleges control the final admissions numbers but they are terrible for students because if you accept a spot on the wait list you need to …..well, wait longer than you already have.
So what do you do if you are placed on a wait list?
First, review the colleges that have accepted you and decide which would be the best choice for you. Getting in off a wait list can be very difficult and you need to make sure you have confirmed attendance at one of the colleges that have accepted you.
Second, review your options before deciding on whether to put you name on a wait list. It may be that your best choice is one of the colleges that accepted you. In that case, don’t worry about getting on a wait list. If you decide that you would like to consider the option of attending the college that put you on the wait list, then go ahead and notify the college that you wish to be on the wait list.
If you put your name on the wait list, how do you improve your chances of acceptance? If there have been any improvements in your grades or any new honors be sure to inform the wait list college of this new information. If the wait list college is your first choice college if accepted, let the college know that fact. If a college accepts students off the wait list, they prefer to accept students who are likely to accept their offers. Students will sometimes want to visit the college again to show their interest in attending the college. Usually, this is a waste of time unless the college requests an interview with you.
The bottom line to wait lists is to accept the reality that most colleges have many more students offered a wait list position than they would ever have the opportunity to accept. For example, last year Carleton College offered wait list spots to 1531 students of which 363 accepted a spot on the wait list. Only 8 of those students were admitted off the wait list.
If you want to know about the college you are considering, ask the college how many people were offered a position on the wait list and how many were accepted off last year’s wait list. That should give you some estimate of how competitive the wait list is at that college.