You've gone through the process of selecting and applying to colleges and then you receive a letter from a college that says you are waitlisted. What does this mean?
What do you do?
This message puts you into a kind of limbo: you've not been accepted, denied or deferred by a given college. At least you have not been outright rejected!
If you are waitlisted, what this means is that you might be offered admittance to a college if fewer students than the college anticipated say yes to their letters of acceptance. Most colleges and universities have desired sizes for their freshman classes. Waitlisting applicants is a way they assure themselves of having the right number of students for their fall freshman class.
So What Do You Do?
To begin with, ask yourself if you really want to attend the college. If the answer is no, simply let the college know that you want to be taken off their waitlist.
If the answer is yes, then don't just simply sit back and hope for the best. That's a little like hoping to win the lottery. Being waitlisted at a college is a time to be active and also to mount an acceptance campaign.
How To Get Off A Waitlist And Onto An Acceptance List
Here are some actions to get off a waitlist and onto the acceptance list.
let the colleges know that you want to remain on their list. Colleges usually give waitlisted students specific directions for following up on their waitlist notifications. Follow those instructions to the "T." If they want a letter from you, write the letter. If they ask for additional recommendations, get them (and make sure they're really outstanding ones!) and do anything else they ask.
If there are no wait list directions or vague instructions, call the admissions office and ask them what you should do. Be sure to let them know how interested you are in their school.
Within the directions you are given, you need to mount an acceptance campaign, paying particular attention to let them know that their college is "your top choice." You can write a strong, personal letter letting them know of your continued interest and very specifically why this college is a perfect match for you. If you've received any awards, won any contests or done something special since you turned in your application, identify each one with some specifics. Also be sure to let them know what you will contribute to their school. To impress the admissions officers, you must give them everything you've got that they don't already know about you.
Ask people who "know and love you" to advocate on your behalf. Let your high school counselor know what's happening and ask him/her to write a glowing letter on your behalf. Find someone who is a "big gun," such as the principal of your school, or a well known alumni of the college, or a highly esteemed family friend, employer, or athletic coach to write you another letter of recommendation extolling your virtues.
Finally, stay in touch with the admissions office. There's a fine line between expressing your interest and "bugging them." Having said that, it never hurts to let an admissions office know that you "really, really" want to go their school.
In summary, if you are waitlisted, don't sit back and hope for the best. Be active, if not proactive, and give them all the ammunition you have to get onto their acceptance list.
Copyright (c) 2010 Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz
Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz is founder/director of adMISSIONPOSSIBLE.com and has been involved with college admissions since her days as Director of Re-entry Programs for the University of California, San Diego Extension. The student deserves to have the best, most up-to-date admissions information.