If you have accepted a place on the wait list of your first-choice college, the next thing to do is to spring into action and, despite the daunting odds discussed below, perform these 10 tasks. And you need to do them with a confidence you may not feel.
These actions fall into three major categories: letting the college know how very much you want to come; reminding them of how you will contribute to and enhance their campus community; and informing them of your ongoing involvement in activities, as well as any new accomplishments you have achieved and any new recognition you have gotten.
- First and foremost, make sure, in a letter to the dean of admissions and to your regional rep, that you let them know that, despite all the other colleges you have been admitted to, going to their college is what you want and, if you are admitted, you will definitely come.
- Have your guidance counselor or school principal communicate the same message. This school is your first choice! If accepted you will definitely come.
- In the same letter from you to the dean of admissions and to your regional rep, be sure to enumerate any new forms of recognition you have received. If you have made all-state in a sport, cite that. If you have been chosen from state choir to now be in the national choir cite that. If you have been given an award as employee of the month cite that.
- Be sure also to mention ongoing activities that you have continued beyond January 1, or the due date of your application, and of which you are proud.
- Getting to the most substantive part of the letter, please reiterate all the ways that you think you and the college are a good match. Tell them how you see yourself on the campus. What will you contribute to the college community? What are the plans you have and the places you look forward to being? Thoroughly describe three or four activities you can see yourself doing. Will you be doing research in their neurobiology lab? Will you be performing in, or an audience for, the improv theater? Will you be on the co-ed flag football team? The frisbee team? Will you be a member of the art coop? Or a leader in the new meditation space? A helper in the organic garden? A member or the investment team?
- Be sure also to mention any new recommenders whose letters are in the mail to the college.
- With reference to this, you need to search in your mind to consider if your contacts and your parents’ friends, as well as employers, athletic or arts coaches, or other contacts could write a recommendation that would strengthen your waiting list spot.
- When you are looking online at the college, it is very important, in general, that you thoroughly look at the college’s website. Look at all the majors you might be interested in, look at what their requirements are, look at what special opportunities they might have, look at other majors that might be related. Look at study abroad opportunities. Look at clubs, activities, sports, and student life information. Open, also, every email and communication from the college. Colleges are using the number of clicks and the electronic interest you show as an indication of your real interest. And you want to be VERY interested and attentive.
- I recommend you visit the school. Colleges may tell you not to and that they are busy wooing the students they have already accepted (It’s reality.). But you can walk around, take another tour, and just say hello to admissions. I know too many stories about students of mine who have gone to see their school one more time and be offered admissions during that visit. It happens.
- Finally, be prepared for whatever happens. The odds are long (see below) and you never know what the college’s situations is. Maybe so many students have accepted their offers of acceptance that the school is worried about where it will house all of its students for the next year. But one thing is certain, you’ll never get in if you don’t, at the very least, try.
The odds of being accepted!
This kind of information for a college can sometimes be found on the admissions website of a college. Or sometimes elsewhere on other websites. It is always available through the “Common Data Set (filed by colleges each year with many educational and publishing organizations)” for each university. To find it search for “common data set for 2016 + university of ________”.
For example, in the recent (2014-15) data for the University of Richmond, it was reported that offers to be on the wait list were made to 3,621 students. Out of those, 1,466 students accepted this offer and were placed on the waiting list. Out of those, 12 waitlisted students were ultimately admitted. In other recent years Richmond reports they have admitted up to 131 students off the wait list.
The University of Virginia reports the same kind of data. In 2014-15, they offered 5,543 students the chance to be on the wait list. Of these, 3,456 students accepted. And of these, 42 students were accepted. In another year as many as 402 students were accepted off the wait list.