If we could have a name for every year, this would be the year of waitlists in the world of college admissions. It has undoubtedly been a year like no other! Students have applied to more schools than ever due to the uncertainties caused by the pandemic. With the cancellation of standardized tests, those who would not otherwise have a shot at any selective colleges have submitted applications to their dream colleges. Since most (if not all) colleges now offer virtual campus tours and online information sessions, students did not feel the necessity to visit a campus before applying. This all contributed to a surge in applications especially at the elite and top tier schools. Even the colleges themselves were not expecting such an upward trend, so they have been trying to come up with some methods to deal with the unforeseen number of applicants. Some have hired outside application readers to be able to evaluate applications in a timely manner, and some have decided to delay their decision release date. Whatever their strategy is, one message remains common among all of them: Expect long waitlists! Why? Simple! Let me explain. The unprecedented increase in the number of applications submitted to colleges is actually a double-edged sword. Yes! It will be in the favor of colleges in terms of increasing their selectivity rate, but it will also mean that their yield rate might be jeopardized along the way. Let’s say College X has received 50% more applications than they would receive in a normal year (AKA pre-COVID times). With the number of seats available for the incoming freshmen remaining constant, more applicants will have to be denied admission, which will automatically increase the selectivity of College X. On the other hand, College X cannot risk not filling all the available seats in case admitted students decide to enroll elsewhere. Remember! This year a lot of students have applied to any other colleges without test scores, and they might have a shot in those colleges, as well. To be able to protect their yield, College X will have no option but to heavily rely on waitlists, which will serve as their backup plan in case they risk hitting their enrollment number. Is it going to be easy to be admitted off of that waitlist? There is no definite answer to this question, the answer of which depends heavily on each college, the number of students who decide to enroll, and the data on how many students were admitted from the waitlist in that specific college historically. Since that is something students cannot control, let’s focus on something else that you can control.
What to do if you are waitlisted?
Check out the waitlist process of the college. You will most likely find clear instructions in the letter/email you receive about the waitlist decision about the next steps. This information might be also available on your application portal, so remember to check the portal for specific details. Some colleges will just ask you to submit a form to demonstrate your intent to accept a spot on the waitlist, while some others will allow you to submit a Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI), similar to the one you have submitted to a college that you have been deferred from. Here are some pointers to help you write the LOCI:
- First of all, thank the admissions committee for offering you a spot on the waitlist and show them how excited you are to accept your spot on the waitlist.
- Share any recent updates, awards, accomplishments, and/or scholarship opportunities that were not included in your application.
- Reiterate the reasons why this college is still your top choice and why you will definitely enroll if admitted. Make them feel your passion and love for the college.
- Thank them again for the consideration and their time.
Whatever you do, remain hopeful but prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario. Especially this year, the waitlists will be overflowing with students who have the exact same academic, extracurricular, and financial stats as yours. This means it will be that much more difficult to be admitted from the waitlist. Make wise and realistic plans to be able to commit to that one school that you have been admitted to by the deposit deadline. Do not wait to hear from your waitlist school. Colleges will continue to take students off of the waitlist until early fall! Yes! You heard that right! Waiting to hear might take forever, so don’t delay your colleges just because your heart is set on one college. If you get lucky and hear that your waitlist spot has earned you an admission, you can always change course and enroll there. This practice is pretty common and called “summer melt” in the world of college admissions.
At EdMission Possible, we offer assistance at every step of the college admissions process. If you need any help picking the right college after all your decisions roll in, we are here to make the decision process easier and a lot smoother for you. Give us a call today to find out how we can help.
Burcak Deniz Cakir
Independent Educational Consultant, Founder, and President | EdMission Possible
Burcak Deniz Cakir has a B.A. in Foreign Language Education, an M.A. in English Language Teaching, and an M.B.A., all of which have laid the solid foundation for her professional experiences as an educator. She has completed the College Counseling Program at UCLA, which is known to be the most prestigious certificate program in the profession. She has previously taught English as a Foreign/Second Language (EFL/ESL) in Turkey and in the U.S. at Virginia Tech, Harcum College, Rutgers University (Newark and New Brunswick Campuses), and Pace University. Having taught EFL/ESL at the college level for over 20 years, Burcak can communicate effectively with college-age students from different countries. She is bilingual in Turkish and English. Her extensive experience with international students from many countries including but not limited to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and China has given her the opportunity to understand their unique problems that domestic students may not be facing throughout the college admissions process, such as but not limited to extra testing requirements (TOEFL, IELTS), the translation of high school transcripts and recommendation letters, different financial forms and statements required, visa issues, being homesick, culture shock, etc.
Burcak is an Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and a Voting Member of the International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC). She currently lives in Edison, New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, and her four-legged son. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her family, reading (lots!) about college admissions and college essays, watching her favorite movies, getting lost in design magazines, and decorating her house.