After my recent blogs regarding the waitlist and how to choose a college to commit to, today I will be talking about the Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI). You may feel discouraged about waitlist offers because you have to wait even longer to find out whether you are accepted to a college, but the silver lining of the waitlist is that the college admissions team sees something special within you.
For some background information if you are new to Study Hall College Consulting, I was waitlisted at a few colleges when I was applying to schools. I accepted the waitlist offer for UC Berkeley and wrote a Letter of Continued Interest. Later on, I was accepted off of Berkeley’s waitlist and I chose to attend!
If you wanted more information about the college waitlist and what you should and should not do while waiting to hear back from schools, read my latest blog on that topic, here: https://www.shcollegeconsulting.com/our-advice-blog/waitlisted-to-college-what-you-should-and-should-not-do. A big takeaway from that blog is that you should note which colleges allow you to send in extra materials when waitlisted. Some colleges may explicitly tell you not to send in any additional information. If that is the case, you should not send any supplemental materials because it will look like you can not follow directions. However, if the waitlisted college does accept additional materials, specifically the Letter of Continued Interest, then keep reading!
1. Know Your Deadlines: The first thing you want to do is to make sure you note the deadlines to opt into the waitlist and to send supplemental materials for the colleges you are accepting the waitlist offer for. Some deadlines may be around mid-April versus other deadlines may be May 1st when the national deadline to commit to a college is. Alternatively, colleges may have two separate deadlines: one deadline to accept or reject the waitlist offer and another deadline to send in materials. Knowing these deadlines now is super important as they are quickly approaching!
2. Letter of Continued Interest Background Information:
What is the Letter of Continued Interest? The LOCI is a formal letter to a college to demonstrate that you are still interested in attending that college even though you were waitlisted/deferred. Basically, it is an extra, supplemental essay. Submitting a LOCI should theoretically only help you as a candidate because you choose what information you want to share. While being on college waitlists, you should continue to research the colleges you were accepted into and commit to a college by the May 1st deadline. You do not want to bank on getting off of a certain college's waitlist.
For some more logistical LOCI information, the LOCI is typically shorter than a regular college admissions essay. The college may give you a page limit or a word limit for the LOCI, where LOCIs are usually one page long or about 500 words. When colleges do provide you explicit instructions regarding the LOCI, make sure you follow these guidelines! Additionally, just like any college application essay, you should follow all of your regular grammar, punctuation, and sentence-structure rules when writing and editing your LOCI. Continue to proofread your LOCI and have others review and give comments on this essay. Finally, keep your LOCI professional. In your LOCI, you should not “bash” the university and write negative comments like “you should have accepted me” or “you made a big mistake by waitlisting me.” You may be feeling these emotions, but you should not put them in your LOCI.
3. Structuring Your LOCI:
Now I am going to talk about how you can structure your LOCI. Please note that this is just my opinion. You can use some of my tips in writing your LOCI or use the tips as a guide to start writing your LOCI.
Depending on how formal you want your LOCI to be, you can start off with a formal introduction like “Dear.” You may say Dear (Regional Admissions Officer) or Dear (Head Admission Officer Name). However, similar to when you are applying for jobs or internships, if you have a vague introduction on your cover letter, like “To Whom It May Concern,” this may actually hurt you. So you can do some research on your regional admission officer or who you should address your LOCI to as some colleges may be picky on this introduction. Personally, I did not include a “dear” in my LOCI, so I would not stress too much over this introduction as it should not make or break your LOCI.
If you have the space, you can start off your LOCI with an introduction of yourself. Something simple like “My name is X and I am a 12th grader at Y High School in City, State.” You can include something like this if you have the word count to do so, however, the admissions team has your file and knows who you are and where you are from, so repeating this information is not really necessary, but it could make your LOCI flow better.
Whether you choose to include more information or jump straight into your LOCI, your opening paragraph is a great space to thank the admissions team for their time and consideration and to reiterate that this college is your top choice and you would attend if you were accepted. This message should be short and simple.
This should be the meat of your Letter of Continued Interest. The college may give you a “prompt” to write about or may leave the LOCI open-ended. “Prompt” because these prompts are not like the prompts you are used to with college applications where they ask you to recall a specific memory, time, or event. An example prompt that I had for a LOCI was as follows:
“Topics to use for the statement may include: Awards and recognition obtained since the point of application, Explanation of any course changes, challenges faced since the point of application. Please remember there is no right or wrong answer, simply the opportunity to share additional information.”
In your LOCI, my biggest tip is that you want to make sure that you are telling the admissions team new information. The admissions team already has the college essays you submitted when you first applied and they have access to all of the supplemental materials you submitted like letters of recommendation, transcripts, and extracurricular activities. Because they have already read your file and have chosen to waitlist you, you should really be using your LOCI space to share new information about yourself to hopefully show the admissions team why and how you would be a successful student at their university. For example, if you joined any new clubs since the time of application, started any new passion projects, won any awards or sports championships, these are all items you can talk about!
For my LOCIs, I wrote about new information that was not included in my college application yet. One activity that I touched upon was a summer internship that I obtained for the summer after my senior year of high school. I had just interviewed and was accepted into a Congressional internship, so I thought this was perfect to mention as I had applied to colleges as an intended Political Science major. At the time of my college applications, I did not have this internship opportunity, so this is something new and good to tell the college about.
Additionally, I also wrote about my experience in an elected county-wide student government position. I had talked about this position in my college essays already, but during the time of application, I had only just started out in this position. By the time April rolled around, my one year elected term was almost over, so in my LOCI I included some of the monumental votes I was a part of and important legislation that I helped pass. Even though this activity was mentioned in my college applications before, in my LOCI I added new information to build off of what was already in my college file regarding this position.
To close your LOCI, you can discuss a personal experience that you had regarding the college. If you attended a campus tour or virtual tour, you can explain how something stood out to you or drew you to the college. For a personal touch, you could also include more information about “why X” college. However, if the college already asked for an entire “why us” essay, you should not repeat that same information here, but include new reasons why you want to attend. For example, you could talk about a specific program, class, professor, or club that is unique to that college. This information here should be special for the college you are writing the LOCI for and should not be copy-pastable to other LOCIs.
In my closing paragraph, I talked about how I visited UC Berkeley with my family over the summer and how I fell in love with the campus and atmosphere. Since I was an intended Political Science major, I touched briefly upon the Political Science program at Berkeley.
After your personal touch, then you can close your LOCI with a reiteration of how this college is your top choice and then thank the admissions team for their time and consideration again. You can sign off your essay with a “Sincerely, Best, Warmest Regards” or some kind of closing word like that. Now you have your LOCI draft and are ready to start proofreading and editing!
4. Final Remarks:
Do not get lazy just because this essay is shorter and may feel less important compared to your regular college applications. You should spend time on your LOCI as this is the last piece of information colleges will receive from you before making their final decisions. Months have passed since you submitted your college applications, so the LOCI is the perfect place to update the college on what you have been up to during this time.
For me, March through May was a stressful yet exciting time while hearing back from colleges but also getting waitlisted and rejected to schools. Just know that you are almost to the finish line! You are about to start a new, insane chapter in your life, which is something to look forward to and cherish. Good luck with your LOCIs and making your final college decisions!
If you are interested in extra LOCI advice or help, please check out our Services Tab on our website to see our Letter of Continued Interest Review service (https://www.shcollegeconsulting.com/services.html).
Rachel is the Founder of Study Hall College Consulting. Rachel graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2020 where she double majored in Cognitive Science and Legal Studies. For more application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.