Waitlisted For College? (6 Helpful Tips To Get Off Waitlist)

Last Updated on May 16, 2021 by David Shaw

So you have been waitlisted by your college and don’t know what to do next? There’s certainly something you can do about this decision, here are a few tips you should follow to potentially get you off the college admission waitlist.

What are the odds of getting off the waitlist? There are steps you can take to interpret and understand why you’re waitlisted by colleges to leverage your prospects of getting off the waitlist.  Being waitlisted might be given by the semester’s applicant volume, major subject competitiveness, or your grade requirements. Additionally, one can directly reach out to the college’s admission officers to impose a more effective impact on your chances of admission

Don’t let media pundits or self-proclaimed experts who might tell you otherwise for reasons you won’t get off waitlists. Instead, you should choose to perceive this matter from a logical standpoint and stance from an alumni’s point of view to maximize and estimate your chances of admission.

Analyze the College’s Applicant Volume

The most logical approach would be acknowledging the applicant volume competitiveness before anything else. Think of the admission process like a contest, we must identify the main challenges before deciding if we can overcome it. The plan is to research the college’s applicant volume and admission rates through their Common Data Set report to better estimate your chances. Below is a list of top university’s waitlist acceptance rate.

University of California, Berkeley33%28%37%
University of California, San DiegoTBA35%N/A
Boston University12%11%N/A
California Institute of Technology4.25%1.26%1.17%
Cornell University3.9%4.4%3.6%
University of PennsylvaniaTBA4.92%0.35%
University of Richmond6.5%6.4%2.2%

According to the data above, admission rates depends and varies hugely for different institutes.

Take University of Cornell and UC Berkeley’s 2020 data set for example, UCB offered 8753 applicants waitlist while University of Cornell offered 6750. UCB accepted 1651 compared to Cornell’s 190 from their respective number of waitlisted students. On the other hand, in 2020 UC Berkeley’s 33% chance of getting off their waitlist is twice as high as the normal acceptance rate, which can be really good news for some.

Regardless, the data and argument above should be convincing enough the stress the need to analyze the applicant volume competitiveness for each university’s respective common data set. By setting UC Berkeley’s admission data as an example, the numbers should show encouragement for you to keep high hopes if you’re being waitlisted. Trust in your decision’s credibility, anything could happen from this point, good luck.

Write An Appeal Letter

Let your character and personal testimony once again outshine the waitlisted applicants by expressing your interests towards the college through your words.

Colleges usually explicitly state their evaluations are not limited to grades, coursework, honors and awards, work experience, community service, and leadership. Their convoluted application process also needs to take into account a key factor which is the number of recommended classes applicants take.

Top universities like University of California receive a large volume of applicants with outstanding profiles every year, but often when it boils down to choosing between 2 equally outstanding applicants, they favor students who take more outlined classes the colllege recommends. This is where the power of an appeal letter plays a critical role into convincing their decision to get you off the waitlist.

Tip: Be honest and sincere in your letter, these help define you personally which can leave good impression for admission officers. Letting them understand a unique aspect or what the college means to you you could potentially leverage your chances of getting off the waitlist.

Set Reminders To Check For Decision

The time window from hearing back from a college’s decision could span up to 4 months. So set reminders time to time to check for their admission offer, because you shouldn’t expect them to wait long for your decision to accept the admission offer.

Some students miss the admission window and failed to respond in time from the colleges and their spot will immediately be given to the next in line, so don’t miss out on important admission notifications from them.

In the meantime, it would be wise to chip in a generous amount of your time into researching and applying to a few safety schools to still round up in a well established academic institution.

Secure Your Spot at Another College

This might sound contradicting whether should you accept offers from other colleges first. The short answer is, yes. Remember, you can always opt out of multiple college admission after you decide on your final choice. This is the safest route you can take instead of waiting on accepting offers from other colleges.

Be sure to just check for the miscellaneous deposit fees colleges will ask for as some will be mandatory, so communicate well with the colleges and keep track of them.

Other than that, you should feel good about yourself because you have many colleges to choose from. Remember, all colleges can produce outstanding graduates regardless of its reputation if you maximize the resources they have to offer.

Devise Backup Plans

Students often need backup plans for college admissions more than they know. If you haven’t got a solid backup plan, don’t waste time and start researching for safety schools. Safety schools are academic institutes that will more likely grant you admissions and are similar in the types of programs offered in your list of top preferred colleges.

Safety schools are really not that far off from your expectations compared to your dream schools if you research them properly. Safety schools should also generally be cheaper in terms of its tuition fee and expenses for most cases. After all, your college experience should what you defined as what to be, and not from how people define it as it is. Don’t buy in to the stereotypes that you always attend the top colleges, because chances are you might be enjoying it if you choose it based on other people’s opinion of the experience and perspective.

I personally know more people who described their stressful college experience at prestigious universities compared to less prestigious ones where they meet awesome like-minded people and share less stressful coursework in general.

Should I Keep my Expectations High?

This is inevitably the hardest question to avoid, but based on carefully analyzing of the applicant volume competitiveness, the number of safety schools you applied and been admitted to, and your academic and curricular standing, you can certainly depict a realistic hypothesis of your expectations. Again, don’t let pundits tell you otherwise, ask and hear from alumni’s or enrolled students who gained first-hand experience and make your logical judgements from there.

Final Take

We miss all the shots we don’t take. You will most likely only experience this process once, so treat this as a lesson to depict an important choice in your life. However, remember your choice of university or college does not determine the fate of your future. University is just a big slice of your 20’s adventure, and there will more meaningful milestones and challenges ahead.

Being rejected by your dream college isn’t the end, Steve Jobs did not credit his college degree when he invented the iPhone, instead it was his hard work and adept social skills that paved a strong foundation in his legacy.

David Shaw

I enjoy blogging about the college experience, teaching people how to navigate and hack their way through college. I also enjoy promoting financial literacy among young individuals.

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