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It is an awful feeling being stuck in limbo all summer not knowing exactly where you’ll end up in the fall. But if you’ve been waitlisted at your dream school, the wait might be worth it.
Don’t get your hopes up too high. Most schools today waitlist hundreds or thousands of students only to end up accepting a few dozen and in some cases, none at all.
But every year, there are many students around the country who get into colleges off the wait list, and you could be one of them.
Here’s what you need to do:
1) Don’t just wait
It is not really a “wait” list. It is an action list.
Don’t sit around and wait to see if a college will take you.
If you accept your spot on the wait list and sit back and relax, you aren’t going to get in.
Unlike wait lists for soccer camp that usually take people off on a first come, first served basis, college wait lists are typically pretty disorganized.
Colleges don’t have some preset order that tells them who to take off the wait list should space become available. The students who are the forefront of the admissions officers’ minds are the ones who get accepted.
Staying active in the process is the best way to do that.
2) Write a letter of interest
Is attending the school where you were waitlisted your dream?
Have you done tons of research about the clubs you would join and the classes you would take?
If so, you’d best share this information directly with your regional admissions officer.
You may have to do a little bit of research to get their name. Perhaps you can find it online or call the admissions office and ask for the name of your regional representative, but personalizing your letter can be well worth it. It can help solidify the relationship you are hoping to build with them.
Give specific reasons why you are particularly excited about being a part of their campus community, and show them that you’ve done your research. And if the college is your first choice school, mention that if accepted, you will definitely attend.
3) Update the college
Have you won any awards since you submitted your original application?
Have you been selected for any leadership roles, volunteered for a local organization, or received additional academic accolades?
There is a good chance that you’ve done something over the past four months that could enhance your application so write it all down and send any updates directly to your regional admissions officer.
4) Send another recommendation
You’ve already submitted two recommendations and a third one is certainly not necessary.
That said, if you have someone in mind who you believe could shed new light on your application and advocate for you, it may be worth submitting a third recommendation in May, June, or even July.
5) Stay in touch. But don’t be annoying.
Between the letter of interest, updates, and recommendation, you will hopefully have multiple points of contact with your regional admissions officer between the time you accept your spot on the wait list and when all the spots are filled.
Every time you reach out, you increase the odds that the admissions officer will remember you or see something that piques his or her interest.
But don’t be overzealous in your efforts.
Sending an email every day or even every week is too much.
But sending useful updates or new information every couple of weeks and even once in a while calling or emailing to check in on the status of the wait list isn’t a bad idea.
No matter how much work you put into getting off the wait list, remember that the odds of getting in are still quite slim. Wait list admissions rates are depressingly low (you can find wait list odds from previous years in the statistics section of any college you look up here).
But if you take the right steps to be memorable in a positive way, you will be able to stand out from the masses and greatly increase your odds of being selected as one of the lucky few.