The truth is that the majority of prospective college students are never accepted off of a waitlist. In a recent report from the American Enterprise Institute, only 2 of the schools listed in the report admitted more than 5% of the students on their waitlists.
So don’t count on a waitlist to secure your place in any college or university. You can write letters to admission officers or call and beg for admission, but you should never go through all that.
If you have done your homework before filing any college application, you should know what your chances are at each of the schools on your list. Find out from each of the schools the number of applicants who are finally offered admission. Make sure you get this information for the past few years.
Ask for the profile of the waitlisted candidates and compare your academic and extracurricular profile to the successful candidates.
Talk it over with your parents and guidance counselor. Have an honest conversation with yourself. If it seems unlikely that you will be offered admission, decide if you want to apply anyway. Only you can make that decision.
No prospective college student should go to the mailbox on May 1st and open a letter that is either a rejection or a waitlist notification.
The key is to gather as much information as possible before you apply and ask the right questions.
At some schools, having a large waitlist is a way for the admission team to boast of their selectivity. This is meaningful and music to the ears of the president and members of the board of trustees. For you it is neither music nor meaningful.