What to Do if You Get Waitlisted by a College



If you’re like many seniors, you may not be sure how to react to that letter from your dream college. You weren’t rejected. You weren’t accepted. You were waitlisted. Being waitlisted can bring up a ton of emotions, both good and bad, but you don’t have to “wait” around to take action. Here’s what you need to know and what you can do if you get waitlisted by a college.


Step 1: Understand What It Means

Depending on your college, the term “waitlisted” may seem really vague. But the basic breakdown is that the college may have filled its quota of students for the next term. Those waitlisted usually have the qualifications and background the admissions team are looking for, but for whatever reason, cannot be fit in if everyone says yes.

If a spot becomes available after college decisions are due (usually May 1st), you’ll receive an official admissions letter. If you’re too far down on the waitlist or if spots do not open, you will not be accepted or will have your admissions deferred to a later term or year.


Step 2: Think Through the Pros and Cons of Waitlisting

You’ll need to decide if it’s worth your time to be listed. It’s a tough choice. The pro to waitlisting is that a spot may open up, especially if you’ve got the grades and activities to back you up. However, if you have schools that have said ‘yes’ to you, you don’t want to risk turning them down and then not having a place at either school.


Step 3: Take Action

Now comes the tough part — the actual wait. In the meantime, call the admissions team and ask details about the waitlist numbers or past year’s waitlists. While they most likely won’t tell you what “number” you are, you can get a sense of what your hopes should be.

Another way you can up your chances is to ramp up your school performance. Take over a leadership position, begin volunteering, sign up for a college summer courses. Then, let the admissions office know this by requesting a second interview or have someone with the connections to the college write you an additional recommendation letter on your behalf.


Step 4: Formulate a Backup Plan

While we don’t want to think of the negatives here, it’s best to be realistic. Come the fall, you’ll need to decide what will happen to you if you don’t receive that letter.

Community colleges are a great option, and in many cases, they can help you transfer to that dream school in a year or two. Taking a gap year is also becoming more popular, and if you use it for an experience like an overseas volunteer trip, you can use it to build your resume and application for the next year. You can also work and save up money for tuition to take away that stress in future years.


Getting waitlisted doesn’t have to leave you feeling hopeless. Make the right decision for yourself by keeping your future in mind, and you can make the waiting as painless as possible.

High School Seniors: Are You Stuck Between Two Dream Schools?



Your admissions letters are in, and the great news is that you’ve been accepted to your two dream schools. But how to choose? With so much on the line and four or more years to look forward to, picking the right college for you matters. This guide will help you make the hard choice without seconding guessing yourself.


Step 1: Make a Pros and Cons List

It’s an old trick, but a pro/con list really can help you sort through all those feeling just below the surface. Maybe one school has professors you love and a gourmet cafeteria while the other is a little too far from home. Count up the pros and subtract the cons. Whatever has the highest number wins. Plus, weighing each of these against one another in list form can help you see each of your options outside the flashy brochures.


Step 2: Visit Again

It’s not always possible, but if distance isn’t a factor, take another tour of the college. This is especially a great idea to do in the winter when the school isn’t full of flowering trees and students in shorts going to tons of college sponsored activities. If you still have those warm and fuzzy feelings, it’s true love. If you start to find faults on second viewing, it might not be worth it.


Step 3: Get Linked to an Alumni

Many schools love hooking you up with access to a recent alumni or graduating students. This person can be a great sounding board on if they think you’ll be a good fit culturally with the school. The trick is to ask for honesty, and you’ll get it. It may take awhile to build up this relationship, but it’s worth it for the valuable input.


Step 4: Go Off-Campus

While your schools may be relatively the same, the towns or cities that they are in may be the deciding factor. First, really think about what you love or hate about where you are now. Is city life for you or would you do better in a countryside with loads of nature? In addition, check to see how your school interacts with the town. Good town-and-gown relations is really important for students who want to fit in or explore.


Step 5: Check the Cold Hard Facts

Some schools win you over with beautiful campuses and awesome tour guides, but the real deal is in the numbers. How many students complete and graduate the program in four years? What is the job placement rate? How is school safety? All this data should be readily available if you ask an admissions counselor or advisor. If they’re less than forthcoming, be wary.


Step 6: Compare the Tuition Costs

It’s no secret that college tuition costs will follow you around for years after graduation in the form of student loans. Most dream schools are just not worth this price tag when another offers you competitive scholarship programs or comes at a lower cost. If money is a concern or at least a factor, your financial aid package should settle the score.