What to do if you are on the college wait list

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HARTFORD - There may be a high school senior in your home who is still waiting out the college admission process because they found out they are on the dreaded wait list. Janet Rosier, a Certified Education Planner, joined FOX 61 Good Day Connecticut to talk about what you can do while you wait.

In the Wait List process, the institution waits to see if it needs to pull students from the list. However, it’s not a passive waiting game for the student who chooses to be on the list. As a student, it’s important to realize you still have many important choices to make and actions to take in this process

Misperceptions vs. Reality

Misperceptions about “getting on the wait list”:

  • Highly competitive schools are worth the wait.
  • Getting on the wait list is “close” to being accepted and therefore almost as good news as if student already was.
  • If a student knows someone personally who was accepted but isn’t enrolling at that particular school, that opens a spot for them.

The harsh statistical reality:

  • Yale: offered wait list to 68% of the number it accepted.
  • Penn: 2816 were offered the option of remaining on the WL and 44 were offered admission from the wait list. This is just 2 percent.
  • NOT for those who will need financial assistance at some colleges
  • Not as ‘close’ as you think.
  • Gives one more piece of false hope.
  • May just be a soft “no” from the institution.
  • Many institutions fill 50% or more of their incoming class in the early application periods.

What to do if you accept a spot on the Wait List

  • Do the research: find out how many students are offered wait-list status; what percentage are then accepted off the wait list each year; if the list is ranked (and if so how); when you’ll hear whether you’re being pulled off the list.
  • Accept or decline wait-list status based on what’s best for you. Declining will NOT ruin your future/life.

Ways to make an impression if you remain a wait-list candidate:

  • When you accept wait-list status, tell them you would definitely attend if you were pulled off the list (and don’t say it unless you mean it).
  • If you receive a new honor or award you can send them that information.
  • Some colleges will read an additional Letter of recommendation, but only if it covers something not already said in the letters that were part of the original application.
  • Don’t be a stalker!

Ultimately, move on.

  • If you remained on the list, act as if you haven’t.
  • Put it aside and think of it as a “no,” then choose from the colleges you’ve been accepted to.
  • You need to put the emotional energy into this decision moving forward.
  • You have to enroll somewhere else because the colleges won’t go to their wait list, if they go at all, until after May 1 when they have tallied their yield. The universal reply date is May 1 so students must choose before then.
  • If you are offered a spot off the wait-list, you may have only a day or so to decide. If they have a spot to fill, they will move on to the next person if you say no.