Colleges and universities manage their enrollment by predicting how many students are likely to enroll and how many will turn down their acceptance offer. For enrollment management purposes, they will waitlist a number of their applicants while they wait to see how many admitted students will commit to them. They begin admitting students from the waitlist as spaces become available. Naturally, they want to admit students who will accept their offer to move from the waitlist to the new incoming class list.

Here are some things you can do to improve your chances of being admitted off the waitlist:

1. Pay a deposit to a university to which you have been accepted as your first course of action given that there is no guarantee that you might get off a waitlist. Some years a university might take 50+ students off their waitlist and another year that number might be zero.

2. Send a Letter of Intent to the university to which you have been waitlisted or reply to their inquiry via their portal to let them know that yes, you do wish to remain on the waitlist.

3. Create a list of your significant accomplishments since the time you sent in your application. These could relate to new SAT/ACT scores, improved grades, new research, or awards won in competitions (whether academic, athletic, artistic, or related to your community service). If you joined a new club or organization or initiated one in your senior year, be sure to include that.

4. Write a Letter of Continued Interest clearly stating that you will enroll, if admitted, while outlining the above accomplishments. Explain why this college is a good fit for you with as much specificity as possible in less than 300 words. Keep in mind that it is very rare to be offered any financial or merit aid along with being admitted off a waitlist.

5. Consider sending in a positive letter of recommendation from someone who knows you well and can speak about your abilities, outstanding characteristics, and personality.

6. Enlist the help of your high school counselor to put in a phone call to the university and lobby on your behalf.

7. Visit the campus in person, if you can. Stop by the office of admissions to meet your regional representative and tell him/her why you are a good fit for their campus as well as what particular features appeal to you about their university. Make sure you reiterate the fact that you will enroll, if admitted off the waitlist. Ask if the waitlist is ranked and if the response is yes, find out where you are on the list.

8. Be ready to respond with a definitive yes or no if you are lucky enough to be called and told that the college is willing to take you off of their waitlist. However, do not hold your breath as the chance of coming off a waitlist is not very likely. If you are lucky and come off the waitlist, wait until your admission is confirmed, then you can notify the university whose offer you had initially accepted to let them know that you are giving up your spot so that it can be offered to another amazing student. Be sure to thank them and wish them the best with their incoming class.

It is a good idea to have your name removed from any waitlists where you know you will not be attending the university. You will be helping a peer who is waitlisted at that school and waiting for this opportunity.

Source: IECA’s College Committee

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