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If You Have Been Waitlisted at College ...
... and you're waiting for the tribal council to talk. What should you do?
By Claire Law
If you have been waitlisted at a college, first of all, don’t take it personally and don’t have a pity party! Here are a few steps you can take before moving on:
1. If the college sends out a card asking if you want to remain on its waiting list, answer it immediately and answer it truthfully.
2. Wanting the college you want it is not enough. Send a note to the admission representative that you’ve been in touch with, expressing your continued interest.
3. Alternatively, call your admission contact to let them know that they are still #1 on your list and that you would enroll if they accepted you.
4. Keep doing the best work you are capable of in senior year.
5. Keep the college appraised of changes, such as:
a. An improved transcript
b. An academic award
c. An athletic or artistic award
d. You re-took an SAT or ACT and have better scores.
e. You got the highest grade in math or English class.
f. You completed your Eagle Scout project
g. You engaged in a substantial amount of volunteer service (beyond what you already listed in the application).
h. You earned a special mention in a particular activity.
6. Consider the colleges that have already accepted you. They may be a better fit academically than the school that has a better household name.
Here are some steps you should not take:
1. Do not call or write too often lest you will be perceived as a nuisance.
2. Do not have your parents call on your behalf.
3. Do not have an important person call or write on your behalf, unless this important person knows you well and can add to what is not already in your application.
4. Don’t feel you have to tell the college where else you applied, been accepted or rejected even if the colleges ask. If you are truly interested in attending the college that has waitlisted you, say so. At the same time, you don’t have to give them your laundry list of colleges to which you applied.
The waitlist is a phenomenon that is here to stay because colleges are receiving too many “soft” applications. This means that students send out many more applications than ever because:
1) the electronic applications make it easier to apply to more colleges
2) the admission requirements are not clear so students apply to check it out.
3) students may send an application out to a high reach college just to see what happens.
Students who work closely with their guidance counselor and educational consultant are more likely to apply to fewer colleges because through the process of exploring their options, they identify the handful of colleges that truly fit them. Navigating the wait list can be nerve-wracking. The more selective colleges have fewer spots that will open up because more admitted students will enroll. Which students tend to come off the waiting list? It’s those students who have been actively expressing interest, have an improved senior year, and are the best qualified among the waitlist applicants.
Claire Law is an IECA Certified Educational Planner in Charleston SC. She works with students electronically by phone, email and internet. She finds colleges that fit the student and are affordable for the parents. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-278-1271 or visit www.eduave.com.