How (and When) Do Colleges Pick Students off the Waitlist?


Are people picked off the waitlist on a first come, first serve basis? If not, how do colleges decide who gets taken off and when?

Colleges typically use their waitlists to fill shortfalls in the freshman class, as well as to meet other "institutional needs." A "shortfall" occurs when admission officers check the demographics of the students who have already enrolled and find that they are lacking females ... or males ... or students from the Southwest ... or Midwest ... or African-Americans or Native Americans ... or humanities majors or math majors. You get the idea.

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