Successful Waitlist Letter

July 24, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Successful Waitlist Letter

The fact that you were deferred or placed on a waitlist typically says a few things about you as an applicant. The good news is that the college believes you have a chance. They think you might make a good candidate.

Of course, there is a condition attached to this.

In most cases, being placed on the waitlist means that the admissions committee isn’t entirely convinced that you’ll be a valuable addition to the incoming class. Even though they see your potential, they have more qualified or compelling candidates, so they just aren’t sure they have a place for you until they hear back from them.

Two completely different college admissions outcomes include being deferred from a college and being placed on a waitlist. Say you requested early action or early decision and received notification that you have been deferred.

Why does that matter?

If you receive a deferral letter, it means that the school has added your application to its regular decision pool for future consideration. The school is deferring your application rather than rejecting or accepting it at this time so that you will now be considered alongside all of the regular decision applicants.

After the regular decision pool responses have been released and admissions considerations are complete, waitlisting takes place. You have not yet been accepted or rejected, like a deferral.

A college will consider you for admission if you are on their waitlist once the applicants from their accepted pool have responded.

After receiving notification from the regular admissions pool, a school may go to the waitlist and accept additional students if there are still “spots” available. It is exactly what it sounds like—a letter expressing continued interest.

Even if you have to wait longer to learn, it lets the college know that you are still committed to attending. A successful waitlist letter informs the college of any achievements you’ve earned since submitting your initial application and, ideally, convinces them that you will be an asset to the freshman class. Then, you will need to start writing a successful waitlist letter.

Generally speaking, there are two pieces of information that can work in your favor.

Consider it this way: Colleges want to enroll highly accomplished, successful students in their freshman classes.

To accomplish this, they must cast a net that is both broad enough to include all students in the class and narrow enough to include only those who will succeed in the long run. It’s a delicate balance. In general, these colleges are interested in learning two things about you.

First, can you succeed at the prospective school, and second, will you accept a spot if one is offered?

What to Do After Getting Waitlisted?

When you receive a deferral or waitlist letter from a college, you might wonder what to do after getting waitlisted.

Young woman looking frustrating while on the table.

It’s critical that you take action because colleges want to see how their waitlisted and deferred applicants handle a challenge. Here are some suggestions on what to do after being waitlisted or deferred from a college, as well as how to remove your name from a waitlist.

Identify the next steps.

If your name is placed on a waitlist, you can choose to accept or reject the position. Even if a spot opens up later, if you decline, the college will no longer take you into consideration for admission. Recognize that this is a long-term choice. If you have been put in the regular applicant pool, give your top college choices another look.

If you are rejected by your deferred college, you might choose to apply to other colleges during the regular admissions cycle.

Select a backup institution.

Students must select a fallback college in case they are not admitted to their top choice school because waitlist decisions are typically not made public until after May 1. It’s best to pick a secondary school you like, accept their offer, and pay a deposit there. You can let the backup school know about your change of plans if you do get off the waitlist for your first choice.

Just be aware that you cannot get your deposit back.

Make your application better.

College applicants who have been deferred or placed on a waitlist can strengthen their qualifications. You can improve your GPA, retake the SAT or ACT, and/or win more awards in extracurricular activities. Be sure to update the admissions office on any changes to your application.

Young man looking at his laptop.

Colleges are interested in how waitlisted and deferred applicants handle pressure. Maintaining or raising your GPA can help you stand out as a candidate. The admissions office will review your application once more after a college deferral. The most recent grades a student has received are typically compared to the transcripts provided during early admission. Your grades ought to stay the same or even rise as a result.

Your chances of being accepted or being removed from a waitlist may suffer if you allow your GPA to slip.

Compose a letter of ongoing interest.

Take some time to write a successful waitlist letter to the admissions office after accepting a waitlist offer or being deferred to show that you are committed to attending that school should you ultimately be accepted. Try to include achievements or goals you have recently attained, such as improving your SAT score or receiving a scholarship.

According to Thompson, a letter of continued interest—or even an email or phone call—demonstrates to an admissions counselor your seriousness about our university. It keeps you in mind and enables you to establish a connection with the college.

Check the status of your application.

It is critical that you stay in contact with the college where you were waitlisted or deferred. Don’t be afraid to contact the college to inquire about the status of your application during the admissions cycle, advises Thompson. Ask if there are any additional steps or documents you can provide, and inquire about the upcoming review.

Schools, according to Thompson, pay attention to students who stay on top of their applications and regularly reach out to them. According to her, doing so highlights commitment and dedication, both of which are desirable qualities in a candidate.

Be consistent.

Keep in mind that the school will decide whether or not to admit you in the end. Many applicants might be selected from the waitlist in some years. In some years, almost no one will.

Female student using a laptop in a wooden table.

No matter what happens, students should be ready for either scenario and remain proud of their achievements. When a student is placed on a waitlist, there is a propensity for them to withdraw and pass up the chance to fully comprehend their waitlist status, according to Thompson.

“Students frequently stop responding to calls, emails, and/or texts, which can cause them to miss out on important information that we are trying to get across to them.”

How Do You Respond to A Letter From the Waitlist?

Being placed on a waitlist can be nerve-racking.

As a result, candidates who were waitlisted occasionally succumbed to stress or disappointment. However, those on the waitlist still have to complete their applications! Not being accepted is not being rejected. You still have a chance to enroll in your ideal school if you play your cards wisely.

Female student trying to respond to letter while on her laptop.

It’s not the right time to let up or to take a break right now. So how do you respond to a letter from the waitlist?

The applicants who react emotionally to the news and behave in ways that are demanding, rude, disrespectful, or otherwise inappropriate, either in their emails, calls, or even unexpected drop-in visits to their offices, are the most egregious offenders that admission committee members complain about. Even if there were only 20 waitlisted applicants at your school, these kinds of responses display inexperience and poor judgment, even if there are 200 or more.

This conduct has been duly noted and will be used against you.

The waitlist indicates that the adcom is still very interested in you. You’re still in the running. By carefully adhering to the school’s guidelines, you can increase your chances of getting off the waitlist and into the program:

Send only what they request.

For instance, confirm that the school you want to attend is amenable to receiving a waitlist or letters of continued interest.

Contacting the school will only damage your case if it makes it clear that it doesn’t want to hear from you.

Writing a successful waitlist letter asking for updates or a letter of continued interest and having letters of support written by others sent in on your behalf can improve your chances for programs that accept these letters.

These letters ought to concentrate on three things: your expanding list of accomplishments; the steps you’ve taken to address weaknesses; and the ways in which you are the ideal student for the institution.

The following five guidelines will help you write a waitlist removal letter that works:

1.Keep it brief; no more than two double-spaced pages.

Make the most of this opportunity to concentrate on your accomplishments since applying. Check and then double check that you haven’t used information that is already in your application when you’re at the brainstorming stage of the letter and again once you’ve finished writing; you don’t want to waste anyone’s time!

2. Begin your letter by briefly thanking the institution for taking your application into consideration.

Your dedication to the institution and your conviction that its philosophy and approach are the perfect match for your educational preferences and goals should be reiterated.

3. Update your credentials.

What has changed and improved because your application was submitted? You should ideally connect these new accomplishments to some of the issues or situations you discussed in your essays.

A recent promotion, recent A grades in pertinent courses, a new leadership position in a project or organization, a recent volunteer experience, initiatives you’ve taken in your department, business, or club, or added work responsibilities are a few examples that you could use.

4. Describe the steps you’ve taken to strengthen any weak points or other issues.

Reiterate how committed you are to developing both professionally and personally. Focus instead on the specific steps you’ve taken to improve in that area rather than dwelling on a real weakness. If your communication skills are or were weak, for instance, talk about how you joined Toastmasters and how the experience influenced and inspired you.

Examine, identify, and correct any weaknesses you may have in your community life, career, and education.

Additionally, be specific if you have plans for additional coursework or employment that have not yet materialized: Indicate the dates and locations you intend to attend them, as well as your willingness to sign up for any additional courses or adhere to any additional instructions the school suggests or offers.

5. Highlight how well you fit in at the school.

Inform the school of your commitment if you are certain that you will attend after receiving an acceptance. You want people to know that you were born to go to this school and that it was designed especially for you. Your fit is flawless, like a warm glove on a chilly hand.

How can you demonstrate to the school that you are the ideal fit for their program?

Describe additional activities you’ve taken to deepen your understanding of their program and expand your network there to support your claim. You might have already mentioned in your application or during an interview how the school’s philosophies and methods align with your preferences and objectives for your education.

Include fresh examples that demonstrate this match to make it a successful waitlist letter.

For instance, if you visited the campus after submitting your application, mention which class you attended, the instructor, and your thoughts on the experience. Mention recent email correspondence with former students or alumni.

What new program feature that aligns with your interests have you found as a result of these connections? You can show that you are committed to attending by establishing connections with the faculty, staff, and resources of the school. It will make the point that this is the best school for someone with your post-MBA goals clearer.

Keep in mind that waitlist applicants should demonstrate passion, not obsession. If you follow these instructions, schools will appreciate your extra effort – provided that your sincerity is matched by an equal amount of professionalism, maturity, and courtesy.

What Percent of Waitlisted Applicants Get Accepted?

Before choosing which students, if any, to admit from the waitlist, colleges must consider their yield, institutional needs, legacy status, and other factors, just like in the regular admissions process.

Two woman looking at the screen of a tablet.

There isn’t a top-ranked student on the waitlist who will undoubtedly be admitted if space is available because waitlists aren’t ranked. A student’s major, legacy status, and other factors can determine whether they are admitted before another waitlisted applicant.

Many colleges waitlist hundreds or even thousands of applicants, but not all of those applicants will accept a spot, sometimes improving the pool and the chances of admission. National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) reports that 20% of all applicants who opted to stay on waitlists were ultimately accepted. The average was much lower at selective colleges, where only 7% of applicants who took waitlist spots were admitted.

Waitlist Information

When admission statistics are released, colleges frequently publish information on waitlist statistics in university publications, including what percent of waitlisted applicants get accepted. This information is also included in their annual reporting of their Common Data Set (CDS).

Writing a list on a paper in a table with a laptop.

According to MIT waitlist data, 680 students, or about 2% of applicants, were given a place on the waitlist for the class of 2025. Stanford waitlisted 652 candidates for the class of 2025; 535 of them agreed to be placed on the waitlist, and 61 were admitted.

The following are additional instances from the class of 2025:

  • Amherst had a yield of 42% and an acceptance rate of 8.74%.
  •  The University of Michigan had a 20.15 percent acceptance rate and a 45 percent yield, but they waitlisted 9.18 percent of applicants and did not accept a single applicant from the waitlist.
  •  Princeton had a 4.38 percent acceptance rate and a 78.32 percent yield, while waitlisting 22.34 percent of applicants and accepting just 0.5 percent of waitlisted students who agreed to be added to the list. 3.36 percent of applicants were waitlisted, and 15 percent of those who agreed to remain on the list were ultimately accepted.

How Do Colleges Decide Who Gets Off the Waitlist?

If your top-choice school has waitlisted you, you might wonder “how do colleges decide who gets off the waitlist?”.

Your likelihood of being removed from the college waitlist is largely influenced by five factors:

  • The number of openings for the school’s freshman class.

The likelihood that you will be accepted off the waitlist decreases as the number of spots decreases. In contrast, your chances of getting a placement increase with the number of open spots.

  • The school’s preferences for the representation of majors, regions, etc. in the freshman class. For instance, if a school didn’t admit enough engineering majors, it would probably admit engineering majors first from the waitlist.
  • Your likelihood, if accepted, of attending the school. This largely depends on your level of interest in the school and whether you’ve made an effort to show that you still want to go there (we’ll go over how to do this in the next section). For candidates who prioritize Carnegie Mellon as their top choice, for instance, CMU maintains a Priority Waiting List.
  • The strength of your overall application, particularly in light of other waitlist candidates. Although it’s impossible to know for sure, it’s likely that you’re a top candidate for admission if you possess strong qualities like a SAT score or GPA that’s above the school’s 75th percentile.
  • How far along the waitlist you are (if the school ranks applicants).

The likelihood that you will be accepted off a waitlist ultimately depends on the specific school you were waitlisted at. How likely you are to be admitted is extremely difficult to predict because highly selective schools receive applications from thousands of qualified students each year, many of whom end up on the waitlist.

Additionally, the number of applicants a college chooses to accept off its waitlist can vary greatly depending on the year you apply. This occurs as a result of the fact that the school’s unique needs, along with the quality and quantity of applicants, typically change slightly each year (for example, a school might want to admit more majors one year than it did the previous year).

When Do Waitlist Decisions Come Out?

After May 1, when admitted students are required to submit their decisions to attend their top-choice college along with the non-refundable deposit, applicants are typically only admitted off a waitlist.

When additional freshman slots are needed, when do waitlist decisions come out? Then it is also the time that colleges typically start to admit students off the waitlist. In essence, if not enough applicants have decided to enroll after the May 1 deadline, the school will begin to admit candidates off the waitlist in the hopes that they’ll accept the offer. Acceptances from the waitlist are frequently distributed gradually throughout May, June, July, and occasionally even August just before the start of the school year.

Naturally, not every applicant on the waiting list will be accepted. In fact, a college might only accept a few or even no students in one year!

Lastly, some college waitlists assign a ranking to the applicants. Therefore, your chances of being accepted off the waitlist are higher if you are ranked highly. But most colleges don’t rank waitlist applicants; rather, they base their admissions decisions on other aspects like the majors they want to have represented and the applicants who are most likely to enroll if accepted.

We also provide consultation services for students who require additional guidance in writing a successful waitlist letter or regarding their options and next steps to improve their admissions chances. Contact AdmissionSight for more information.

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