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  • Jill Madenberg

4 Strategies to Improve Your Chances of Admission After Being Waitlisted

You may learn that your application has neither been accepted nor rejected, but waitlisted. This means that the college is interested in you but may or may not have room for you.

If you have your heart set on a certain college, there are a few things you can do to maximize your chances of being admitted off the waitlist:

  1. Send an email notifying the admissions office that you will accept a position on the waitlist and that you will attend if you are admitted (if this is true). Many students call colleges as soon as they are waitlisted. This is a very busy time in the admissions office.

  2. If you have won any awards or anything substantial has happened to you since you first sent in your application (such as winning a science or music competition), this is a great time to inform the school. If there is a particular class in which you excelled and that stands out from your typical academic performance, you could tell the schools about your grades. In the email, you should explain your rationale for applying to that particular school, why you are a good fit, and what makes the school a top choice for you. If possible, inform the college of why attending that institution would help you meet your academic and educational goals, and mention specifically which programs you would participate in if admitted.

  3. Ideally, you should visit the campus again and personally meet with someone in admissions. If you can arrange for an interview, even better. While it’s expensive to travel, if you are really committed to one college and want to spend the next four years there more than anything, showing up and telling the office is a good idea if you are hoping to get off the waitlist. Your visit signals to the college that you are serious about attending the institution. That said, if your personal circumstances preclude a campus visit, inform the admissions counselor of this while also trying the other tactics I suggest.

  4. Arranging for an additional letter of recommendation to be sent on your behalf could also help dramatically. You never know if just one person’s powerful words can push your application over the edge. Or perhaps someone outside of school who knows you well (like a boss at a job) could be a great extra option for another letter.

Make sure to put a deposit down to a school that you have been accepted to by May 1. While it’s disappointing to be waitlisted, there are still ways to improve your chances. Do your best to demonstrate to the college that you will enroll if accepted, as colleges are extremely interested in accepting students who are most likely to enroll. Even if you don’t get into your “dream” school, remember that there are a number of colleges -- not just one -- at which you will thrive. Sit tight. We've seen students get off the waitlist as late as the end of July!

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