When you apply to a university, there are three options for what’s going to happen to you next: you will get accepted, rejected, or waitlisted.
The waitlist provides a whole lot of gray area for aspiring college students. It means you weren’t accepted, but you weren’t necessarily denied either. So, what are your chances of being accepted? What’s your next move?
What are your Chances?
The chances of getting accepted off of a waitlist are slim, but it’s not impossible. On average, 17% of students who were waitlisted were admitted. 58% of the schools admitted 10% or less of the students accepting a place on the wait list last year, 41% of the schools admitted 5% or less, and 12% admitted no one.
What are your Options?
Some people give up entirely. They take the waitlist as a no and put a deposit down on a different school that they were accepted to. On the flip side, it isn’t unheard of for students and parents to get creative. I’m talking sending baked goods, calling every day, or even writing songs. Is this something you should do? The answer might not be that simple.
If this school is the school of your dreams, it’s worth fighting for. However, in a situation like this you must be tactful and tasteful in the way you pursue your acceptance letter. This means being persistent, but not obsessive. Send academic information, but not baked goods or candy. Follow the rules, but also not being scared to work the system if needed.
Here’s what you should do if you find yourself in waitlist limbo.
Communicate Consistently and Effectively
When I say this, I don’t mean call the admissions office every day and beg. But follow-up is necessary. Let them know they are your first pick, that you will be a full time paying student and worth the risk, and call or email every once in a while to keep your name in the mix.
Don’t ask where you are on the list or what your chances are of getting in. Admissions officers hear enough of this daily. Remind them that you are present and ready to do what it takes to be accepted, but don’t pester them about it.
Send What They Ask for or Recommend
Your college or university will often give recommendations of what you should do to follow up after being waitlisted. Along with letting them know that you are very much interested in their university, you could also send an additional reference letter or updated academic information to remind them of your interest.
However, don’t send things like cookies, candy, or your credit card information. None of these things reflect your academic ability or your ability to enrich their university. Stick to showing yourself off, not your baking abilities.
Follow the Rules, But Don't be Scared to Get Creative
This goes hand in hand with sending them what they ask for. Make sure that you are sticking to the guidelines and not overstepping any boundaries. However, working the system and getting creative should be options for you to consider as well. Some universities won’t officially waitlist you until you have said that they are your first choice, so work the system and let them know that you are a definite contender for a coveted spot on their list.
When I say get creative, this means getting creative with the way you go about sending what they ask for. Maybe send a photo wearing a university t-shirt, write a poem about why you should be accepted and your qualifications, do something that shows off your ability all while setting you a part from the rest.
Like I said previously, the odds of being accepted off of a waitlist are not good. The statistics speak for themselves. With that being said, you will never know unless you try. Anything worth having is worth fighting for, so if this is your dream make it a reality. If it doesn’t turn out the way you had anticipated, you can at least say that you gave it your all.
One parting word of advice, don't try the same trick with multiple universities. A college wants to know if it's your number one choice. Don't lie and feed the same line to multiple schools. Most often they will get wind of what you've said to other schools and it could backfire on you.