What if your application is neither accepted nor denied, but a college puts you on its wait list? To be wait-listed means that you have not been accepted yet but have been placed on a waiting list in case an opening becomes available. Schools rank the applicants from the regular admission pool on their waiting lists in order of priority. There are some years that the more competitive schools never have to draw from their wait lists. Schools must notify students by August 1, however, if they will not be admitted.
There is one important fact to remember about admissions options and wait lists. If a student receives a wait-list notice on an early decision, the application is returned to the regular pool to be reviewed during the next cycle. If the student is wait-listed during the regular admissions cycle, the applicant is the put on the ranked wait list.
What do you do if you are wait-listed?
According to the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) “Statement of Students’ Rights and Responsibilities in the College Admissions Process,” a student who is wait-listed has the right to ask the college for a history of the school’s wait list that indicates the following:
- How many students have been on the wait list in the past?
- How many were offered admission?
- What types of housing and financial aid were available for those students who were later accepted?
Your guidance office can help you find out this information from the admissions officer who has been handling your file.
You also want to find out the following:
- Where you are ranked on the wait list?
- What the major obstacle is to your being accepted?
- Taking an Active Role?
- What can you do (personally) if you are wait-listed?
Never assume that you will be accepted. Always accept an offer from a college that has accepted you. Secure your place with a deposit. (You can always let your interim college know that you have decided to attend another school.)
Keep the college that wait-listed you updated on everything new that would add to your application—academic milestones, projects, awards, or outstanding achievements. Write a letter to the Dean of Admissions that reiterates your interest in the school and makes it clear that you will attend if accepted. Make sure that your financial aid papers are in order. If they are not up to date, you might be passed over in favor of someone who has submitted everything.