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 Students: What Does it Take to Get Into College?


Getting into College

It may be summer, but as a high schooler, you probably have one thing on your mind: getting into your dream college. However, dreaming about your acceptance letter is just one part of the equation. Planning and working towards that stellar application requires a lot of work and foresight — and it begins today. These tips will help you prepare by showing you what it takes to get into college.


High School Students: What Does It Take to Get Into College?


If you want to get into a good school, you’re going to need to show them what you’re made of by bringing along an excellent report card. That doesn’t mean just passing; it means achieving. The more prestigious the school, the better grades in the tougher classes will be expected.

If you had a bad semester or you just can’t seem to ace your math courses, don’t sweat it too hard. College admissions counselors don’t solely weigh your GPA. They also want to see that if you failed, you managed to pick yourself up again.

Test grades matter as well, though not as much as you may think. While many colleges advertise an average ACT or SAT score, the numbers are usually just a guideline. Other activities and application materials will be weighted, too.


Most colleges want to bring on students that have school pride, are involved, and have ambitions outside of class. Activities can be a way of showing off your well-roundedness. Now is the time to sign up for Spanish Club or to try out for cheer leading.

If you’re an athlete, getting into college on a sports scholarship is a whole other monster. You’ll want to talk to your coaches as soon as possible about how to attract the right admissions counselors to see you play. If you’re planning on going into the arts, you’ll need to start building your portfolio, brushing up on your auditions pieces, or videotape performances. This will give you something to show when admissions season comes around.

Volunteerism and Work

Volunteering regularly in your community isn’t a requirement to get into college, but it can set you apart from the crowd. And it doesn’t take much at all! You can do little things like participating in a monthly park cleaning day or something much larger like organizing a coat drive at your school. Find a cause or issue that matters to you and get to work. Colleges like to see that you are driven to make the world a better place.

A second option/alternative to volunteering is to actually going out and get a job. Universities love to see future students take on adult-sized responsibilities like building a resume. Plus, as a bonus, you’ll start saving for school even earlier.

The Application

Finally, none of this would be evident to your college admissions advisor without that dreaded application. All colleges have a form of this with their own deadlines and admissions periods. Our advice is to focus in on a few key items: when early admissions applications are due, how many recommendation letters you need and how they must be sent in, and what (if any) essay(s) you need to complete.

Early admissions is a great way to show how serious you are about your school choice, but early admissions applications means getting everything ready way in advance of the normal application process. This means planning your recommendations (contacting, reminding, confirming) and completing your essay (writing, editing, re-reading). By planning out your application, as well as your qualifications, in advance, you can ensure you’re on target to get  accepted to your ideal college.

The 10 Emotions Everyone Has When Waiting for Early Decision


Have you been sitting, waiting for the mailman every day? Once he’s gone, do you pore over every single envelope suspiciously? If this sounds like you, you’ve probably been waiting to hear back from your dream college, the college you loved so much you applied for it early via early admissions or early decision. The wait is certainly the hardest part; let’s commiserate.


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  1. Confidence

Your applications are out, your essays are complete, and even your recommendations from that less than reliable teacher is submitted. Your go-getter attitude is sure to win over your dream school. All you have to do now is sit back and relax…


  1. Dreaming

The first few days after applying, you’re probably still in that honeymoon daze. Your love for this college is strong, and soon you’ll be able to wear your university’s colors on your chest for the world to see! You can just taste the tailgating food and the old library books now.


  1. Panic

It’s been two weeks. Two weeks. I mean, how long does it really take to go through an application? A week? A few days? What if you filled it in wrong? What if you forgot to write your name? Did you apply for the wrong school?!?!


  1. Nervousness

There’s still time to get those admissions letters… but maybe it’s time to talk about backup plans too. Checking out the deadlines of other, safer schools is totally normal.


  1. Regret

Wow! Admissions fees really add up. $50 here and $75 there can make a huge dent on your wallet. It’s safe to say that you’re probably regretting not holding off until you were absolutely, completely, and totally sure that this school wasn’t the best choice out there.


  1. Terror

It’s been so long! What happens if you don’t get in? Do you get shunned? Figuring out how to navigate rejection before it even happens can send you into a tailspin. Don’t freak yourself out just yet.


  1. Jealous

Your best friend got into their choice school, and your arch rival is celebrating by bragging to everyone he/she meets. Why do they get all the fun while you’re still waiting for that big envelope to arrive?



  1. Contentment

It’s time to get zen. Take up meditation, sip some herbal tea, and/or listen to peaceful mountain sounds. You’ll want to do everything and anything you can to learn how to be content with the agonizing last few days of the wait.



  1. Nervousness (Again)

It’s here! It’s D-Day! You wait all day by your mailbox with your fingers crossed. Parents and bestie are on speed dial. Now if only the mailman could arrive on time today!



  1. Joy!

The big envelope! You did it! Not only did you survive the wait to be admitted, you got in before all the other applicants. Congrats! You’re going to college!


5 Ways to Highlight Extracurriculars on Your College Application


There are many bits and pieces of your college application that add up to a complete package — but few are quite as important as your list of activities. Showing off your well-rounded involvement is essential, especially for high-ranked schools. Here is how to make your extracurricular activities look their best on your college application.


1.   Use Your Personal Network

Have your coaches or supervisors be the ones to list out your accomplishments or leadership positions. Make sure they note if you won any awards or were dedicated to the activity for years. These are all important notes, and colleges want to see that you made those memorable impressions on your extracurriculars supervisors and leaders.

2.   Revisit Them in Your Essay

Your essay section is a great way to shine and put a little personality into your list of activities or your leadership positions. Writing prompts like “Describe a time when you were challenged” are inviting you to discuss those one or two activities in a more rounded out way.

3.   Know What to Include

There are several ways to “test” if your activities are good enough to be listed. For example, you should have participated for at least one semester, though a year is better. You should also have a good attendance or participation record and have a story or two to tell on why you enjoyed it or how it improved your life. Avoid listing extracurriculars that you only did in middle school or grade school. Stick only to activities in which you participated in during high school (though if you began the activity in junior high and continued it through high school, list that as well).

4.   Avoid “Padding” and Lying

Overstuffing your list is as bad as not listing any. First, college application evaluators can usually tell if you are passionate about the activity or not. Too many activities can set off some alarms in admissions advisors heads – were you truly dedicated to all these extracirriculars at once? Most importantly, never, ever lie about your participation in an activity. If the college finds that you were not honest in your application, your chances of being admitted are over. In addition, it could get you in trouble with teachers, activity leaders, and even your parents if the admissions officer talks to them first.

5.   Rank and Value Them

When listing your activities, start by putting the ones you were in the longest at the top. Rank them based on how applicable they are to your goals. For example, if you are planning on becoming a nursing student, your biology club membership should go first. Then, go by leadership position. If you were the president, leader, or founder of a group, rank it near the top. This ultimately will help you make a better impression for admissions advisors. By knowing the best order to place these activities in, colleges will understand the true you!