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Hey kids I’m Elena, I’m a senior at TJHSST in Alexandria, VA. I’m gonna be talking about what to do if you get put on a waitlist.
So, waitlists are essentially the most annoying thing that can happen to you in the college process, except if you spell your name wrong and you have to redo the common app or something like that. Because a college isn’t saying like, “hey, we love you, come to our school” or “no, get out of our face, we don’t want you here.” Instead they’re saying, “We might want you here, depending on who says yes and who says no.” but first of all congratulations because it’s better than a rejection.
But something to know is that a lot of schools have thousands and thousands of kids on their wait lists. Some schools are known for their super long waitlists and that’s something you should definitely research, but the good thing is that a lot of people decide not to stay on the wait list, so that will help your chances if you decide to stay.
So, the way it works is you’ll get your admissions decision just like any other, that says yes or no, you’ll get your letter in the mail, usually after you get an online notification of some sort. And they’ll send you some sort of card or link that sends you to a site that says, “Do you want to be on our waitlist?” you check “yes I want to stay on the waitlist, I’m still interested in your university”, or “no, I’m going to this university instead.” You’ll usually have to let them know by May 1, just like anywhere else, and it’s a really easy process.
So the decision about whether you should stay on the wait list or not. My advice is, if you really, really think you’d go there, do it. I was waitlisted at Harvard but I’m going to Duke. My dad went to Harvard, and obviously it’s the best school in the country so it has a lot to offer me, but I am not positive that I’d go there.
I sent in the card saying yes I’m still interested, and the good thing is that it’s not legally binding, so it doesn’t mean you’d 100% go there if you get in off the waitlist, it just means that you’re still interested in attending. So I sent it in, thinking why not? It’s better to keep my options open. I’m pretty much 100% set on Duke, so if I get off the waitlist at Harvard I probably won’t accept, and that just means I can tell people I picked Duke over Harvard.
So, you need to think about whether the school is really where you’d want to be. If you’re not sure that you’d go, if you got in off the waitlist, I say don’t do it. Let somebody else who’s dying to go to that school, take your place. If it’s your dream school, if you’ve been dying to go there since you were 3, or even September of this year, then go for it, and decide to stay on the waitlist.
Find the regional rep for your school or your area and you should send them an email saying you’re still interested in their school, that you’d go there 100% if you got in, that “I want to go this school for this reason, etc., that this is really important to me”, and then they’ll see how interested you are. And you ask them if they want you to send a supplemental teacher recommendation, if they want you to send them a list of accomplishments you’ve made since you sent in the application, like any awards, any shows you’ve been in, any concerts or sports things you’ve done, papers you’ve written, science fairs, etc.
And then if they say yes, go ahead, send a letter of interest in the mail to that person, to the dean of admissions, send emails or letters to the professors in the fields you want to go into, just do it, be pushy. Don’t be rude, but show how interested you are, because that’ll help getting off the waitlist, and it’ll also help because if you do your best with that, you’ll really feel like you’ve tried your hardest. And in the future, if you don’t get into this school, then you’ll feel like you tired your best.
Something to know about getting off the waitlist is that they don’t just pick the guy with the highest GPA, the highest SAT score, or something like that. Most places aren’t ranked on their waitlist, so if one person says “hey I’m not gonna go,” then the first person on the waitlist doesn’t necessarily get in. It usually is done so they can fill gaps in the student body. So they might say, “hey, we need more trombonists in the freshman class” or “we need more students interested in business, we need more lax bros”. They will decide that stuff based on who says yes and no to them.
So, they might just not have the type of person you are and let you in for that reason, it doesn’t mean you aren’t as smart as some of the people let in. They’re just trying to keep themselves in the position where they can say they have the most diverse student body possible.
So, to review congratulations because waitlisted is better than rejection! Do your research to see if it’s better to stay on the waitlist or not, based on how many people they typically take off their waitlist.
If you really want to go, good for you, do it! Talk to your admissions rep, send millions and millions of letters, and try your best so you don’t regret it in the future. And good luck! If you don’t want to stay on the list, that’s also good, the kids who are dying to go there will go in your place, and you will fall in love with whatever school you decide to go to.
And that’s the final thing, if you get in off the waitlist or don’t, or if you decide not to stay on it, love the school you choose. It’s best to just separate yourself from that waitlist school, stop thinking about “what ifs”, and love where you’re supposed to be. Because hopefully you’ll be there for 4 years, and it’s for the best and it’s meant to be. Good luck in all of your college endeavors!