March Waitlist Strategies
Over the past few weeks many applicants were notified that they have been offered a spot on the college’s ‘waitlist’. For some this is a sign of hope – it is not a rejection. For others it is a torturous postion – limbo between yes and no. Whatever your view, the main question is what an applicant should do if they find themselves on the waitlist of a college they want to attend.
First of all, follow instructions: if the college has asked you to whether you want to remain on the waitlist, let them know immediately. If they have asked you for an updated transcript, send it right away. Some may ask you to write a letter outlining any changes or updates. In the case of undergraduates it might be new exam scores, awards, new positions held at school or extracurricular achievements. For MBA applicants changes can be promotion, job change or salary increase.
If the college has not given any instructions, you should call or email the relevant person in the admissions office, express your interest in attending the college and ask what steps you can take to improve your chance of getting off the waitlist. Once they tell you, write a letter or email (make sure to get their email address) outlining the details they requested. Try not to overcommunicate with the admissions office. Admissions officers are extremely busy this time of year and you do not want to become a pest. Some people even suggest waiting until the end of April to contact the admissions officers, once they are more free and can give their full attention to your case.
If at all possible it is helpful to get a letter or a word of recommendation from an active alumni of the college who can write to the admissions team on your behalf.
Any steps you take will not guarantee your admissions. But in the event that the waitlist is opens up, your new information may make all the difference. Unfortunately students get put on the waitlist for many reasons and the odds of converting to admissions offer are not good. But some do make it, and you could be the lucky one.
Typically waitlists are not ranked for MBA programs and for undergraduate programs it varies. In general once seats become available the admissions committee reviews the wait list and considers the waiting candidates in relation to the make-up of the students who have accepted the offer – e.g. if more women have accepted and they want a 50/50 gender split then they may look at men on the waitlist, etc. Whether they pick you out of the men or women could depend upon what you wrote in your update letter.
The update letter is crucial so do NOT stop working hard in school or at work once your applications are submitted. Only by continuing to excel will you be able to put additional information on your letter. If you need your counselor, employer or an alumni to support your movement off a waitlist, then you need to continue to achieve in your studies or work.
A final important step is to accept an offer and make a deposit payment at one of the colleges where you were admitted, in case the waitlist spot does not materialize. The chances are you will end up at this college and be happy. So enjoy your success, from wherever it may come.