To Wait or Not To Wait, That Is the Question

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Waitlist offers—the no man’s land of college admissions, an offer for the B Team, a “we’ll call you, don’t call us”—hope and doubt all wrapped up in a single “Maybe”. Students, although navigating through the emotion of wondering why one wasn’t quite “good enough”, can still lobby for an offer of admissions. But, should they? 

First, do you still want to attend a college that has decided you are less of a desired applicant, who will only be admitted if a university’s first choice admittee declines their offer for admissions and, if so, why? If the answer is yes, then I recommend contacting the admissions officer to ask if additional information is helpful or a hindrance, and what information would be most useful during a waitlist evaluation. 

Furthermore, of note, if a waitlisted student is interested in continuing to be considered for admissions, they should be sure to indicate their preference by the stated deadline. Many admissions offices don’t automatically assume every applicant offered a waitlist space will choose to remain on the waitlist, so request applicants respond by a particular deadline

Moreover, I also suggest students wait until all admissions decisions have been received by the first week of April to begin deliberating their acceptances and waitlist offers, before deciding to remain on a waitlist and sending additional information to those colleges. Obviously, if students choose to RSVP at one of the schools where they’ve been accepted, waitlist offers are irrelevant

Even if students still want to consider a college where they’ve been waitlisted, then students should always choose a college from amongst their acceptances by May 1, the national enrollment deadline, to ensure a seat somewhere for Fall 2021, then determine how or if they’ll advocate for their admissions by submitting additional information to a college. 

Campaigning for admissions from the waitlist usually begins by the applicant sending a note communicating their continued interest in attending a university. To or not to submit more information, first, depends on a student’s confidence that in attending a particular college, they’ll further discover their aptitude. Thus, more reflection is essential. 

Lastly, students are not ranked in order of preference on the waitlist, nor is the date in which a student reserves their spot on a waitlist an advantage. If any openings remain after May 1, admissions officers will extend acceptances to those waitlist candidates that best meet their admissions standards


For more information about how Creative Marbles experts help families navigate the complex college admissions process and seek the greatest value in education, contact us at Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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