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Waitlisted? What To Do Next

As we move through the Spring semester, more and more college admissions decisions will be available to prospective students. Most responses will be a final decision of acceptance or rejection. However, some students may find themselves placed on a school’s waitlist. In this blog, we’ll go through what being waitlisted means, what to do about it, and how to strategically move forward with other college decisions.

A waitlist decision puts prospective students in limbo. Colleges understand that not all accepted students will choose to attend their programs; they have planned and projected numbers for each new freshman cohort. If enough admitted students deny their acceptance because they plan to attend another institution, space may open up in the college’s incoming class.  

A waitlist isn’t necessarily in order based on the time of submission or other factors. The overall strength of a student’s profile as an applicant compared to others on the waitlist is still significant. One important consideration is a student’s intended field of study. Departments need to avoid overcrowding certain programs, so the major(s) a prospective student applied to matter as well.

With decision deadlines approaching and the increased selectivity of many colleges, it’s important to assess all available options. Ultimately, students should focus first on their current acceptances rather than holding out for movement off of a waitlist. With schools a student has been accepted to or is still waiting for a decision from, there are many ways to evaluate these choices.

Students and families can consider reflecting on the following questions:

  • Which campus has the courses and faculty most relevant to your major and career aspirations?

  • Which school provides the better aid package and fits your family's financial preferences?

  • What about the student body and campus culture fit?

  • What professional development opportunities are available? 

  • Which school offers the better dorm and living situation?

  • Out of the schools you’ve received acceptances to, which are you most excited about?

  • If you did eventually get off of the waitlist, how would that school rank amongst your current acceptances?

Students who would like to keep a waitlisted school as an option can choose to submit a letter of continued interest. A letter of continued interest lets a school know that a student is still very interested in earning admission. Students deferred in ED or EA rounds of admission may have utilized letters of continued interest with similar goals.

Information contained in these letters should include significant updates to academics and extracurriculars or something that wasn’t covered in the original application—essentially, anything that would positively “stand out” on a transcript or resume. This could include an improved GPA (especially in classes related to a student's area of study), a new leadership role in a club, or an award in a competition. 

*Gateway students can utilize B2A’s full Letter of Continued Interest guide to help construct their letters. Post-Gateway and CAS sessions can also be utilized to develop these letters and review a student’s options.

Letters of continued interest are different from an appeal, which is usually associated with attempts to reverse a rejection decision. Appeal policies are typically very strict; each school has its own guidelines. For example, UT Austin’s appeal process requires a short answer essay and an optional letter of recommendation or transcript.

Finally, it’s important to be aware of the timeline students are working with. Some schools may have deadlines for letters of continued interest—students should check with each school to identify requirements and due dates. May 1 is generally known as College Decision Day, but some schools are changing decision deadlines in response to delayed FAFSA evaluations. Be sure to check out B2A’s upcoming blog posts for more information.

Our B2A Counselors would love to celebrate your acceptances and/or re-strategize your applications after deferrals and rejections. Please contact our offices to schedule a 1:1 meeting to decide what your next steps are to ensure you get the most out of your college applications.


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