What happens when you are on a College Waitlist?

What happens when you are on a College Waitlist?

Sometimes, students apply to their favorite college with grand dreams of acceptance only to find out that they weren't exactly rejected; however, they are on a waitlist instead. 

This can be a very emotionally trying situation to find yourself in. Deep down, you realize it is better than flat-out rejection however, the uncertainty can lead to a dramatic intake in stress and anxiety when you feel like you are stuck in limbo. After all, the admissions process is time-consuming enough and it is natural to want a solid decision so that you can plan your future with clarity. 

Don't panic if you end up on a waitlist. There is still a chance that your admissions dreams will come true. It is estimated that twenty percent of high-school seniors who are planning to attend college end up on some form of a waitlist. 

Of course, it can be difficult to know what the next steps are if you are waitlisted. The following 4-point plan can help you stay organized. 

1. Speak with the admissions office to discover your waitlist odds.

Most admissions offices will share with you what percent of students typically end up on the waitlist and how many get admitted. You can also review numbers posted by every school thanks to The College Board.

Ask about when they will notify you with their final answer. Circle on your calendar when you can expect to hear a firm yes or no. The majority of schools will advise you of their decision by May or June. 

Likely, you will need to accept an offer at another school before you hear the final word from your top choice. If that is the scenario, you will need to choose if you want to go to your waitlisted school as there may be different financial considerations to take. Some schools will have a lost deposit or reduced financial aid. Look at all of these vital factors when you are making your decision. 

2. Decide if continuing waiting is a viable option.

Being on a waitlist is stressful and unnerving. You might not have the luxury of letting your future remain up in the air. There is nothing wrong with re-evaluating the schools that have already accepted you. 

Alternatively, there is nothing wrong with choosing to remain on the waitlist and hoping for the best. If your top school comes through, you will be allowed to still accept admissions at an alternative school. You may have to forfeit your deposit in some instances. You will want to check your financial aid offers from each place to ensure you can meet your needs. 

3. Contact the school if you are still hoping to attend.

Notify the school formally if you wish to stay on the waitlist. Letting them know you are interested in enrolling is essential. You will need to forward a letter of intent that includes information regarding recent achievements you have attained since you first submitted your application. 

Utilize your resources. Connect with your admissions contacts in the office to ask for an interview. If you have already interviewed, request a follow-up. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. 

Show up in person to let your school know you are an excellent candidate. It is important to express your enthusiasm while avoiding any nagging behavior. Don't hassle the admissions office. They are extremely busy. If you send a myriad of emails or make too many phone calls, this can reflect poorly on your candidacy and have the opposite effect that you intend. 

4. Look again at the schools that have already accepted you.

Plan B is a big deal that you now need to kick into high gear just in case. It is essential to have a backup plan long before you hear "no" from your waitlisted top choice. Look at all your options including the financial aid packages from the schools that have already offered you a place. 

Evaluate the additional information like room and board that will factor into your decision. Keep getting good grades and maintaining a positive work ethic. The waitlisted school may want to see an updated transcript before they make a final decision. 

Things to Remember 

Stay positive throughout the process and know that you will end up where you need to be. Life has a funny way of working out for the best. Surround yourself with the things that make you feel happy. Speak about your frustrations instead of holding onto the stress and uncertainty. 

Maintain your physical exercise or go for a hike, jog, or yoga class to blow off some steam. Maybe a massage or a pedicure is in order. Learning how to navigate waiting and stressful situations is a life skill. Have a nap and a cup of tea and focus on a positive end result.