What to do When You Get Waitlisted

Although being waitlisted is better than being flat-out rejected it may not seem that way to students who will have to sit on the edge of their seats to see if they get into their dream school. There are a few things students can do to be strategic about the situation and ensure that they end up at a great college in the fall regardless of whether it’s at the school they originally wanted to attend. Each school has different requirements when it comes to waitlist procedures so it’s important to look up all of the details and be aware of any specific due dates and deadlines. The most important thing is not to feel overwhelmed emotionally when it comes to being waitlisted. Ultimately, students can get a great education one place or another.


1. Deadlines

It’s essential to be aware of any important deadlines, both at a school a student was waitlisted at as well as their alternate choices. Most students need to make a commitment to one school or another by May 1st, although each school’s admissions deadlines are different. Students should make sure they have also met any deadlines required by their waitlisted school such as confirming an interest in still attending that school or sending any additional materials that might be allowed. Meeting deadlines will be extremely important when juggling admissions to different colleges (READ: “Santa Ana Tutor Tips: 4 Tips to Solve College Acceptance Issues”).

2. A great second choice

Students should also be thinking about an excellent second or third choice school. Even if they still want to go to the waitlisted school, they should also get excited about other potential opportunities. In some cases, students determine that they might actually be happier at their second choice school and that they don’t wish to continue the application process to other schools. It’s important for students to think about the great aspects of the schools that accepted them outright. For instance, an excellent campus environment, great teaching staff, and exciting degree programs. It’s important for students to stay uplifted so they can finish the school year strong.

3. Keeping grades high

Each school will have different policies when it comes to materials for waitlisted students. Some will only consider the student’s original application materials while others may allow students to provide supplemental support. If this is the case, it won’t look good if the students grades have slipped significantly since they originally applied. It’s important for students to keep their grades and test scores high so they look great on paper and have an overall successful transcript.

4. Communication

Students should also pay close attention to any communication allowed, or prohibited, by a school they are waitlisted at. Some schools will allow students to provide several supplemental application materials to support their case, but most will only allow a basic email expressing a desire to be still considered for admission. Other schools will strictly prohibit any communication and will only find original admissions materials. However, if a school does allow some type of communication, it’s really important that students take this opportunity to express their interest in the college (READ: “5 Things You Might Not Expect About College Finals”).

5. Withdrawal from a second choice school

Many students will get into a stressful situation where the deadline for their second choice school passes before they find out if they’ve been taken off the waitlist at their first choice school. If a student must make a commitment, they should carefully analyze the steps to withdraw from their second choice college. Some schools will allow students to pull out with almost no penalty whereas others may not give out any refunds. At some point, students will have to make a commitment to one school or another, but if an opportunity to attend their first choice school presents itself a little late in the game, they want to know how they can make it work.

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