Wait-Listed and Still Haven't Heard Yet? Consider These Options


It's that time of year, when most students know exactly where they'll be attending college — but for some high school seniors, this may still be a time of uncertainty. If you're one of the unlucky few who is still waiting to hear whether you've made it off the waitlist at your goal college, check out the following tips to help determine whether you can move forward sooner rather than later.

If You Haven't Committed Elsewhere, Consider Doing So

Some students have just one goal school in mind and only apply there, which makes wait-listing even more nerve-wracking, since it means there's no backup option. However, if you were admitted to other schools where you can also see yourself, it's a good idea to commit to one of those and pay the deposit by the school's deadline, even as you await word from your first choice.

However, you shouldn't put down deposits at multiple schools — only at the school you earnestly believe you would will attend if the wait-listed school doesn't come through for you, advises Marilyn Kaufman, M.Ed., of College Admission Consultants, who is also on The Princeton Review's National College Counselor Advisory Board.

Make Sure the College That Wait-Listed You Has Updated Records

If a school wait-lists you, it can help to send the school updated information with new and improved grades, test scores, achievements and recognition, as well as expressing your continued interest in the college.

“A high school counselor can also send an email with new information to the college admission counselor, and it is important for the student to complete any renewed interest forms and/or write a letter stating why he or she is so passionate about attending the college and how he or she will add value to it," Kaufman says. “The key is to be informative and personal, showing interest without being a nuisance."

Don't Lose Hope

Although it may seem like a long shot that a college will offer you admission after April has passed, the reality is that many students hear about waitlist statuses after May 1, and you shouldn't lose hope.

“Because parents do not need to pay a deposit until May 1, not all accepted students have notified the colleges whether they'll attend that university, so oftentimes, openings become more available mid- to late-May, or even later in the summer," Kaufman says.

Although it isn't common to hear about a college acceptance when summer is coming to a close, it does happen. “I have had students who were notified of an opening as late as several weeks before the fall term began," Kaufman notes.

If You Decide Not to Accept an Admission Offer, Notify the School

If you know for sure that you won't be attending a college that has offered you admission, it's highly recommended that you notify the colleges out of courtesy as soon as possible. “This allows deferred students to have an opportunity to still accept a spot in the freshman class," Kaufman says.

Typically, this just requires you to send a brief email to the undergraduate admission office or through the college portal to notify the school that you'll be declining admission. You don't need to tell the school where you will be going or any other information.