It’s March, which means that college decisions are starting to be released! You will be hearing back from colleges and their decisions on whether you were accepted, waitlisted, or sadly, rejected. Today, I am going to talk about getting waitlisted at colleges as I have experience being waitlisted to a few colleges when I was applying to schools.
What You Should Do If You’re Waitlisted:
1. Accept or Reject the Waitlist Offer: The first thing you need to think about is whether you want to accept or reject the college waitlist offer. Most colleges, when they waitlist you, will give you the opportunity to decide whether you want to be on the waitlist or if you would like to remove yourself from the waitlist and applicant pool. This is an important time to do extra research on the universities that you were waitlisted at. Attend a campus tour (or virtual tour), reach out to current students via Facebook or LinkedIn, read about current student life via the college Facebook and Reddit pages, and watch YouTube videos of current students. This kind of research can help you gain a more in-depth view of the college, rather than just researching the programs the college offers. After taking time to research and think about each college you were waitlisted at, if you could envision yourself attending that university if you were accepted off of the waitlist, then you should accept the waitlist offer! However, if you can not really see yourself attending the university if you were to be admitted, then you should remove yourself from the waitlist. While it may be enticing to stay on every waitlist just to see where you can get accepted, if you have no intention of attending the college, choosing to reject the waitlist offer is important because it allows other students the opportunity to be accepted off of the waitlist.
For me, I decided to stay on two college waitlists, but removed myself from other school’s waitlists. I accepted the waitlist offer for UC Berkeley and Harvard, but I rejected the waitlist offer for UChicago and UVA. After further research, I couldn’t really see myself attending UChicago or UVA, so decided not to stay on those waitlists. You will need to do the extra research and really think about what atmosphere and environment you would want to attend for the next four years!
2. Are you Disadvantaged: Another factor to think about when you are deciding whether to stay on the waitlist is whether being waitlisted will cause you to be disadvantaged later on. For example, some colleges may offer less housing options to waitlisted students because the students who were already accepted had the opportunity to choose housing before you. Additionally, if you are waitlisted, you may have less class choices as your enrollment date could be after all of the other students. This means that you may not get your first choice in classes or class times, as the classes may be full by the time you get to enroll. You should research factors like this or call the admissions office to ask them if waitlisted students get less options because they were waitlisted.
3. Commit to Another College: Since the national deadline to enroll in a college is before waitlist offers will be sent out, you will need to choose a college to commit to. You should truly enjoy the college that you choose to commit to because you don’t know if you will get off of any waitlists, so you can not bank on attending a different college from the one you committed to. After the national deadline, then colleges will see who accepted their offers of admission and look at their incoming class. Then, they will begin offering waitlisted students offers of admission in order to fill the rest of their class.
For the college you commit to, attend a student tour, if they are offering admitted student events or virtual welcome events, then you should attend! You should get excited about the college that you commit to! With committing to a college, you will probably have to pay some sort of down payment fees in order to secure your spot. This down payment is usually non-refundable, so this fee may be something to think about.
For me, I originally committed to the University of Maryland in their Honors College. I had a good scholarship to attend and the in-state tuition is always a plus. My friend from high school and I would have been living in the same Honors College dorm and I attended their admitted student day to learn more and get excited about the university.
4. Letter of Continued Interest: After you accept a college waitlist offer, you should see if they allow you to send in extra materials or write another supplemental essay called the Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI). Some colleges may tell you that they do not want any extra materials, so if that is the case, do not send them anything new because it will look like you can not follow directions.
In your LOCI, this is a place for you to highlight yourself more and showcase yourself in ways that are not already in your application. You should not solely regurgitate information already in your main application in your LOCI, because the admissions officers already know this information. You should say that you are still interested in the university and would definitely attend if you were accepted. You could also talk about additional reasons why you love this college that are not already present in your application. If you won any new awards, sports accomplishments, participated in any new clubs, started a new passion project, then these could be great achievements to highlight in your LOCI.
In my LOCI, I wrote about my experiences being the student member of my county’s Board of Education. When applying to colleges, I had just been elected to this position, so I could not write an entire college essay about my experiences. However, by the time March and April came along, my one year term was almost over, so I had many experiences voting on the Board of Education that I could highlight. This information was not yet in my application. If you want to see an entire blog centered around LOCIs, let us know by submitting a form at https://tinyurl.com/SHCCBlogs.
5. Keep your Grades Up, No Slacking: This is not the time to get senioritis or start slacking in your classes! For colleges that you are accepted or waitlisted at, you will probably have to send your entire senior year transcript to them at the end of the year. So if you are usually a straight A and B student, and then you start failing all of your classes at the end of senior year, this does not look good. You could have your offer rescinded and lose scholarship money because your grades have fallen. Keep up the hard work in your classes and don’t get lazy!
What You Should NOT Do if You’re Waitlisted:
1. Send a Letter if they say Don’t Send Anything: Like I said above, if you send a LOCI or extra materials when the waitlist instructions specifically state not to, then you will look like you can not follow directions and this could impact your admissions results.
2. Call them Everyday: You should not be calling the admissions office every single day to ask them how you can get off of the waitlist. If you wanted to call once or twice to ask specific questions regarding the waitlist, this is ok, but calling everyday with the exact same question is a little bit overboard.
3. Commit to Two Colleges (or zero): When committing to a college, I know people who committed to two colleges because they were indecisive and could not make a final decision by the national deadline. This is something you should not do as it will probably cause you problems later on since you can not physically attend two colleges at once. Plus, you would be paying the down payment at numerous colleges, so you would be wasting money. Additionally, committing to multiple colleges would prevent other students from having the opportunity to get off of the waitlist.
You should also not commit to zero colleges as that is very risky. You can not bank on getting off of a college waitlist, so if you want to attend a college in the fall, you should commit to one. Otherwise, you could end up being rejected at your waitlisted schools and then you would not have any colleges to attend in the fall.
4. Post Inappropriate things on Social Media: This tip goes for any college or jobs you may be applying to, because admissions officers may be looking students up online to see your online social media presence. Additionally, you could have your offers rescinded because of what you post online.
5. Doxing Yourself: Similar to the last tip, this also relates to social media. I read on the law school admissions Reddit that admissions officers do peruse social media pages like Reddit. On pages like Reddit and College Confidential, you should not dox yourself, meaning you should not be posting super specific information about yourself online so that someone could figure out who you are. That is why when people post on Reddit and College Confidential, they will usually block out part of their test scores and say they participated in a local sports team, rather than saying "I got a 1600 SAT and played Varsity Soccer all four years of high school." By sharing this information, someone could theoretically figure out who you are and look at your post history. Additionally, when posting on these sites, you should not say things like “I don’t actually want to attend X school I was waitlisted to, but I’ll accept the waitlist offer anyways.” On the law school admissions page, I saw admissions officers talk about how they rejected people over posts like that because they could figure out who the student was. As always, just be mindful of what you are posting on the internet.
These are some things that you should do and should not do when applying to colleges! Definitely comment on this blog if you had any questions, hopefully this advice is helpful. Good luck on those waitlists!
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.