You’re On The Wait List – What Now?


It happens every year to many students.  With the huge number of students who apply to most colleges, its impossible to admit all of those who are qualified and who the college would love to have.  So, lots of applicants end up on the wait list.

Should you give up and deposit at another college, or stick it out and see what happens?

If you are an “in demand” student, say a man applying to a traditionally female major like education or nursing, you have a decent chance of getting off The List.  On the other hand, if you are in the middle of the applicant pool according to you GPA and scores with no outstanding feature (called a hook), sadly, you probably won’t be admitted.

College build classes around certain parameters specific to each college.  Here are a few of the factors that affects your acceptance or placement on the wait list.

  1. Gender  Most colleges are 60/40 women to men so men get a slight advantage.
  2. The number who apply to each major; there are only so many seats and classes
  3. A housing crunch could favor a commuter

The chance of being admitted from the wait list depends on the demographics of the those who deposit and of those who choose to go to another college.  Most likely, you will need to fit into a vacated slot in the class to be admitted off the wait list.

Here are a couple of things you can do to support your case and to assess your chances.

  1. Be honest in your assessment of  how your credentials stack up against the rest of the applicants’.
  2. Call the admissions office and ask how many people are on the wait list and how many were admitted from the wait list last year.  If you can’t get an answer, ask your guidance counselor to get the information for you.  Some colleges wait list hundreds and admit fewer than 5 of them.  Others wait list 25 and admit 10.
  3. Let the college know whether or not you want to remain on the list: its the polite and businesslike thing to do.
  4. If you remain on the list, update your file with grades, awards, new scores or another recommendation. Add a letter stating why you would be excited to attend.  Reassure the admissions office that you will come if admitted. (if that isn’t true, get off the wait list and deposit elsewhere).
  5. If possible, make another visit to the college before they break at the end of their semester.

Keep in mind that all of the colleges on your application list are colleges you like. It serves no purpose to long for the one that didn’t admit you.  Choose among the colleges that are as excited to have you as you are to attend.


The key to getting in is to start with a list of colleges that are an academic, social and financial fit.  Choose the ones that are as likely to want you as much as you want them.  I can help you find great places to get a great education. or 610-212-6679.

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