Updated: Aug 16, 2022
So, your student wants to stick it out and try and get into the college where they were waitlisted? That's great!
But even though it's called a "waitlist," your student should do more than just wait to hear back; that is, if they are serious about wanting to get into the college! Here, we talk about possible strategies that may tip the scale in your student's favor and get them admitted off the waitlist.
Accept your waitlist invitation from the college before the deadline!
Remember, your student must accept the invitation to hold their waitlist spot; it will not be done automatically. Be sure that your student reads their letter carefully so that the college receives their request to be put on the waitlist before the deadline! The waitlist acceptance can be done electronically, but your student has to hit submit.
Remember, your student should also let their high school college counselor know they are still interested in the college.
Encourage your student to send a letter of interest to the college!
Simply stated, encourage your student to inform the college that they want to go there if they, indeed, want to go there! Colleges like to have a high yield so they want to admit students who want to attend and have indicated that they will accept if offered a spot in the class. When your student informs the college that they will absolutely, positively attend if admitted, this may increase their chances of getting in from the waitlist. Your student can email the letter to a designated admissions officer at the college or indicate a strong interest on the waitlist response form. Your student should use whatever means available to relay their interest to the college admissions office.
Encourage your student to accept a college offer from another school (by the May 1 due date); if the waitlist does not pan out, they have a college to attend in the fall.
Remember, being put on a waitlist is no guarantee of admission. Pre-pandemic, many colleges took fewer than 10% of waitlisted candidates (and many colleges admitted a much lower percentage).
Update information on your application!
Your student should update their application with any new information to make them an even more attractive candidate to the college. New information can include: any recent award, improved test scores, improved grades, community service hours/activities, completion of a high school thesis or research project, or an achievement at work or school or with an extra-curricular activity that they accomplished since they initially applied to the college. If so, work with your high school college counselor's office to share that information with the college.
Keep in contact with the college's admissions office.
Your student should stay in contact with the college admissions office. We do not think there is anything wrong with staying in touch with the admissions office to determine the chances of your admission to the college. This could be through an email or a telephone call to a designated contact person at the college.
Submit an additional letter of recommendation?
Some believe that an extra letter of recommendation may bolster a student's changes of getting off the waitlist. We don't begrudge that at all, but we think that if your student seeks out an additional recommendation letter, it should ideally be from an individual who knows your student very well, has worked with your student in some capacity, and can speak to a significant, recent achievement or event. We think it should speak to a recent event because it will provide additional, new information that was unavailable when the application was initially submitted. The letter should be very personal to the student and not just a general letter from an individual who does not know your student well.
Keep up your academics!!
The waitlist season could go into the summer, and all colleges require final transcripts from students as a condition of admission. Encourage your student to keep up their grades and aim to finish out strong! We can't emphasize this strategy enough. This is not time for your student to develop senioritis! You want your student to have a solid finish to their senior year, as this may be what they need to get off the waitlist and into the college of their choice!