steps to take when you're waitlisted

Posted : March 10, 2008
Last Updated : April 15, 2021

steps to take when you're waitlisted

If you are put on a waitlist, you might feel as though you are in college admissions limbo. You aren't accepted, but you aren't denied either. Colleges may use waitlists as a safety net against the unpredictability of enrollment of accepted students. When accepted students decide not to enroll at the school, the college turns to its waitlist. Follow these steps if you've been waitlisted.

Stay positive.

Being put on a waitlist can be pretty depressing if your heart is set on that school, but try to stay positive. Find solace in the fact that you weren't outright rejected. The admissions office liked you enough to put you on the waitlist. Some students weren't as lucky. Keep in mind that you still have a chance of being admitted, and even if you aren't, you will survive. If you aren't accepted, you will have just as much fun and learn just as much at your second or third choice school. Don't let the waitlist get you down!

Find out your chances of admission.

The notification that you receive about your waitlist status should give you some information about your chances for admission. It may list the number of students who have been put on the waitlist in the past and how many of those students were offered admission. The notification may also state your rank on the waitlist. If the notification doesn't offer any of these details, call the admissions office to get the information you need.

Show the college you are still interested.

If you decide to stay on the waitlist, fill out the form indicating your interest and follow the directions provided in the waitlist notification. Send a note to let your admissions officer know that the college is your top choice and that you will attend if admitted. Follow up with a phone call and request another (or a first) admissions interview. Just remember to not be too pushy when contacting the school.

Display your talents and skills.

Ask a teacher, counselor, coach, etc. to write a new letter of recommendation for you in which he/she says something that hasn't been mentioned before and that shows you in a different perspective. Send your admissions officer updates on:

  • Senior year grades
  • New SAT/ACT scores
  • Awards/recognitions
  • Volunteer activities
  • Other significant information

Reserve a space at a college that accepted you.

Make sure you have a back-up plan in case you are not accepted at the school that waitlisted you. Review the list of colleges that accepted you and send in a deposit to your top school from that list. Since colleges don't decide who will be admitted from the waitlist until after the May 1st decision deadline, it's crucial that you enroll at another school just in case.

Keep in mind that if you are accepted off the waitlist and decide to attend that school, you will have to forfeit your deposit at the school you originally enrolled and submit a new deposit to the school that accepted you from its waitlist. Also, if you are accepted off the waitlist, the school may not be able to offer you the same financial aid or housing opportunities that you would have had if you had been admitted earlier. You should weigh these cons against the pros of attending the college and decide if attending the school that waitlisted you is still the best choice.

If you are not accepted off the waitlist, please remember that you will have just as many great college experiences at your second choice school!

For more information about the waitlist, contact a college admissions office.

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steps to take when you're waitlisted

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