Maximize Your Chances of Getting off the Waitlist at Your Dream College
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – College acceptances and denials are rolling in and college admissions expert, Dr. Helen Griffith joined Good Morning San Diego to talk about how to help increase a student’s chances of moving from the waitlist to the admit list.
Advice from Dr. Helen Griffith:
The first step is to decide if the student really, truly wants to attend this school above all others. If so, formally accept per the school’s requirements. (This is usually just checking a box.)
Sometimes it feels as if students should try to get off the wait list because they’re so close, but if they are not certain they will attend, perhaps they should simply decline the waitlist offer. That said, students who are committed to attending their top choice college, where they were waitlisted, they should formally accept the offer, then make a strategic plan to maximize their chances of being selected.
The second step is understanding and accepting what a waitlist really is – and what it is not. Students on the waitlist are not ranked or queued, waiting for a handful of admitted students to decline.
Colleges accept more applicants than they have spots for based on their past yield, which is the percentage of students who accept admissions offers. The smaller the school and the higher the yield, the fewer spots can be drawn from the waitlist.
The third step is the know the rules of engagement. Check the university admissions website and see what the school will accept in terms of communication.
The fourth step is knowing what you can – and cannot control.
Out of a student’s control = Many of the factors that go into selecting students from the waitlist are completely out of the student’s control. When students accept an offer to their top choice school, typically on May 1, colleges revisit the composition of their incoming freshman class. They may or may not determine that they need to draw from the waitlist taking into account students’ majors, regions, talents, gender, or racial and ethnic background.
In a student’s control = There are things that are in a student’s control, though. Many public universities ask waitlisted students to write an additional essay or letter. (This may be posed an an option, but student would be wise to use this opportunity.) This should be a well thought out approach, very similar to the letter of continued interest waitlisted students should send to private schools.
The fifth step is to be smart and strategic in communication
A letter of continued interest – or an essay – should be a positive and optimistic, offering new and/or specific information about why this student is a perfect fit for the school.
If applicable, students should mention that the school remains their top choice and, if admitted, they will attend.
Some schools allow for additional letters of recommendation to be considered, but again, they should offer new information or insight the admissions team doesn’t already have.
If the student had an interview with an alumni or admissions officer, he or she should write and let them know they are still very excited about attending the school, including any updates from the letter or continued interest or essay.
Warning: Don’t go overboard
There is a difference between offering new, relevant information and going overboard.
Stay positive and ask for support
If you are a student on the waitlist of your top college, remember to congratulate yourself. A waitlist letter may be disappointing, but it also means that the admissions team thinks you would be a successful student at their college.
Finally, enlist the help of your high school guidance counselor. They share in your hopes and dreams are here to support you in every step of your journey to college. Whether or not you are selected from the wait list, we know going through this process will be a positive growth experience for you.