Being placed on a college waitlist is a hard pill to swallow—no matter if the news comes from your top-choice school or your fallback option. Nevertheless, how you learn to handle disappointment and the actions you take in the face of it are important life skills to acquire. After all, placement on a college’s waitlist is better than a flat-out rejection, and your chance of admission is still viable.
What does it mean to be placed on the waitlist anyway? A waitlist refers to the list of prospective students who may or may not be offered admission to a college following the traditional admission period. These applicants have applied to a particular college, and their applications were neither accepted nor denied. Instead, they were placed on a waitlist with the potential for an eventual admission or ultimately, a rejection.
Read on to discover how you should properly approach a waitlist offer and some tips on how to get off a college waitlist.
Upon learning of your waitlisted status, (1) it is important to remain positive. Be grateful the news was not of an outright rejection, and that you still have a chance to obtain admission to your chosen college. Setting the right tone will inform your admission process going forward, and an optimistic attitude will only serve to help you in your additional efforts to earn collegiate admission.
(2) Your next step is to either accept the waitlist offer or deny it. Denying or ignoring the offer entirely means the college will no longer consider your application and will move on to the next hopeful student. In order to secure your spot on the waitlist, you must accept the institution’s offer. This action may depend upon the school, from filing out a form to responding to an email.
Another step to take for how to get off the college waitlist is to (3) put down a deposit at your second-choice school. It is imperative you secure your spot at another school should you not get off the waitlist at your first-choice institution. Having fallback options is always a smart move.
Next, depending on the waitlist instructions provided by the school, (4) you can initiate strategic and polite communications with the admissions office. This might entail writing a letter affirming your interest in the school and sharing your latest academic accomplishments or updated standardized testing scores. You might also have your high school guidance counselor send a letter on your behalf, detailing your desire to attend the school and the reasons the school should admit you. You should also be sure to maintain your academic performance and grades—an offer of acceptance or a spot on a waitlist does not mean you can ease up on your schooling.
Finally, the last thing you can do to encourage your college waitlist chances is to (5) remain patient and respectful. At this point, you’ve followed all the necessary steps and done all you can to earn admission into the college of your dreams. Be patient and practice politeness as the admission journey continues. Stay hopeful and good luck!