By now, most students who applied to college through early admission programs have learned their fates. Some are celebrating their good fortune; others are mourning the loss of their dream schools; and many, many others are likely stuck in waitlist limbo.

If you’re among the many who have been waitlisted, here are our top tips – the do’s and don’ts of college waitlists.


Express your continued interest. It may seem odd, but you should treat your waitlist letter as an invitation to be considered (again) for admission. As such, you should RSVP by responding to the offer of remaining on the waitlist. The sooner you do this, the better – many colleges look at your response time as an indicator of how passionate you are about attending.

Make contact. Contact the admissions office to find out the name and contact info for the regional representative dedicated to your area. Write a letter to that specific person so that you can express your dedication to attending the school and provide any additional information that might be helpful (recent grades, test scores, or awards).

Create good news. After expressing your interest in a letter, you should ONLY contact the admission office to share noteworthy news. It’s in your best interest to generate news by seeking awards and honors, taking (and excelling on) additional tests, or getting involved in additional activities.


Proceed without a backup plan. Historically speaking, only about 1 in 3 students who are waitlisted receive offers of admission. While being waitlisted doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, you shouldn’t count on ultimately being accepted. You should submit additional applications (to schools you actually wouldn’t mind attending if you needed to) so that you have a Plan B – and perhaps Plans C and D as well.

Nag the admission office. No one likes to be annoyed, and admission officers are no exception. If you are in routine contact with the admission officer, you’re probably being annoying. Remember that these are very busy people who have hundreds upon hundreds of students under their purview. Adding to their stress-loads won’t make them view you in a positive light.

Say inappropriate things online. Yes, admission officers often internet stalk potential students. Be circumspect about the things you say online, and whatever you do, DON’T badmouth any colleges regarding their decisions.

Good luck!