Why did this happen and what can I do?

Were you waitlisted at one or more of your schools?  Why did this happen and what can you do?

Most important to remember–all waitlisted students are excellent candidates and good fit for the school.  There were likely many more applications from well-qualified students than there were spaces in each school’s Class of 2019–Every qualified candidate cannot be accepted and many don’t even make the waitlist!

Why were you waitlisted?  There are many possible reasons including these below:

  • Admissions is an art and a science.  The number crunching piece of the process –the science of the admissions– is straight forward.  Unfortunately the art of the process is filled with the unknown.  The school has priorities that are not known to applicants and each application reader brings something different to the table as well.  You cannot possibly know what the school needs as they gather the threads that will eventually build the diverse quilt of the incoming class.
  • Diversity is a possibility.  Schools want an ethnic, socio-dynamic, geographic, and perspectives in the students they accept. This makes for a more interesting campus community but makes understanding why or why not you were admitted a difficult if not impossible thing to do.
  • Many schools put heavy weight on whether or not they think you will matriculate if accepted (i.e. be part of their admissions yield).  If the committee does not think you were likely to attend if admitted (e.g., this was your safety school) the school might push you to the waitlist and admit students who are more likely to attend.
  • Additionally, students with similar grades, scores, and academics might get different results if one student visited campus more or had more interactions with admissions. Showing this interest does make a difference to some admissions committees.

What can you do if you were waitlisted at a school that you would go to if admitted:

  • Select another school and plan to deposit at that there.  There is no guarantee that you will be accepted off a waitlist
  • Have your guidance counselor contact the admissions officer at the school to get some information regarding your application and their waitlist in general.  You will probably get some great feedback from the school.
  • Let the school know promptly that you would like to remain on the waitlist. Send the admissions officer that you have worked with a nice, respectful letter stating that you were disappointed that you were not accepted but hopeful that you are on the waitlist.  Then you can update the school about any awards or other honors you have received since you submitted your application.


Image Source JBrazlto from Flickr used with Creative Commons License