👋 Hello, beautiful seniors and other applicants. Look, I know this week and the next couple of weeks are gonna feel just super fucked up and shitty for a lot of you. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all better and make college admissions somehow feel fair and like they make sense, but I haven’t discovered that power in me yet, so I’m gonna stick with providing as much information as I possibly can for those who want it and can use it. Here’s the deal: If you’ve been waitlisted, you have some decisions to make… Let’s get started!
IMPORTANT PSA ABOUT YOUR PHONE: If you accept or have accepted waitlist positions, be sure that your phone is charged and working and that you can accept voicemails. And be sure that the number they have is one you will be checking. Often colleges will call you about a waitlist offer before they email you or text you, so they need to be able to reach you. You don’t have to answer in the middle of your English Lit or Calc class, but you do want them to be able to leave a voicemail. Also, make sure to read random texts and check spam and junk email folders fairly regularly. Don’t check it obsessively. That’s not healthy.
❤️🩹A note: I know for some of you, getting that waitlist decision is incredibly painful. It is, in lots of ways, a soft rejection, and I believe that’s by far the healthiest way to look at it, but that’s also what makes it sting even more. So, be sure to take care of yourself. Give yourself some grace and time to process and adjust if you need to. I’ll be writing more about caring for yourself emotionally in the incoming weeks as we start feeling the full brunt force of decisions, but here are a couple of my posts from the fall that might help you through your feelings now.
❓ABOUT THE WAITLIST: THE LOWDOWN
I don’t know about y’all, but I just have this sneaky feeling we are gonna have another big ole humongo pile of waitlists this year, just like last year and the year before that. Colleges just don’t have any way to predict their enrollments because of the way everything has been upended in the past couple of years and the huge waves of applications that have continued to happen at So. Many. Colleges.
As they did in the past couple of years, I think many will try to manage their yield and freshmen classes with the waitlist — and I know y’all are beginning to feel the effects of that now. Rick Clark, Director of College Admission at Georgia Tech, said a couple of years ago, “Right now, admission and enrollment leaders around the country are obsessing over the models they developed to predict student “yield” behavior. They are looking back at pre-pandemic information and weighing that against 2020, in addition to praying more, sleeping less, and stretching out to make the “leap.” You should read the whole linked blog post, by the way. We did see a wave of applicants get accepted off waitlists in both 2020 and 2021 and even in 2022, but that was a new trend. Usually, I say think of it as a gentle rejection — and I still do for the most part. So, although I encourage you to be proactive if that school is one you’re truly interested in (read what to do below), you still need to move forward and embrace the colleges who have shown you love and accepted you (or find some if you don’t have them). You can do both at the same time. While you’re reading Rick Clark’s blog, make sure you read his latest: The Two Most Important Letters in College Admission. If you’re not sure what they are, he says they’re IP. Institutional Priorities – If you’re not sure what that entails, you definitely need to read his blog to get a better understanding of your college decisions.
One of our former moderators on the ApplyingToCollege subreddit, u/LRFE, had a great post about what the waitlist is and what it all means. I’m just gonna copy and paste some of it here (with some of my revisions):
“Colleges use a waitlist mainly to manage yield and class size. They have an idea of how many students they want in the class and admit some amount that will end up being around the class size. However, since they can’t predict yield perfectly, they sometimes turn to the waitlist to fill up the rest of their class. Colleges often have an FAQ about waitlists or an FAQ that answers questions about waitlists. It varies from college to college: do your own research… Schools often release some statistics on waitlist acceptance rates: for example, Amherst states 500 people accept their waitlist spot, and on average, accept 20 per year.” So, check out the Common Data Set for any info that’s been shared about waitlists from the years prior. How many did they waitlist? How many did they take off? Be sure to Check out my YouTube chat with Marcella De Laurentiis, aka u/Novembrr, where we talked about how to use the Common Data Set and just about waitlists more generally. She shared so much amazing information, and if you’re writing a LOCI, I highly recommend you watch it so you can learn from her as she answered questions from students like you.
DO NOT STAY DEVOTED TO YOUR WAITLIST COLLEGE(S): Just like with admissions — it’s ok to hope for the best, but you need to expect the worst. Maybe it’s just my Gen X brain (I’m not quite a boomer), but in my experience, “Manifesting” just isn’t gonna cut it when it comes to admissions once the application is in and the LOCI is written for a waitlist. As u/chumpydo so wisely commented, “Submit your LOCI and then treat it like a rejection. You might be surprised in the future, but just don’t even consider it an option because statistically, it isn’t.”
FALL IN LOVE WITH AN ACCEPTANCE: Fall in love (or strong like) with at least one of your acceptances. Learn as much as you can about them through various virtual visit sites: hang out on their webpages, follow their social media, and do their tours and info sessions. I love this idea from u/yourfriendgumby: Make a class schedule so you can see all the cool courses they offer!
WAITLISTS AREN’T BINDING: You can accept spots on as many waitlists as you like. You can stick with the school where you’ve deposited (and you do need to pick one to deposit to unless you’re sure you want a gap year or to attend community college) or choose to attend your waitlisted school, but more than likely, you’ll lose your deposit at the college where you’ve accepted a spot — and you should accept a spot somewhere.
COMMIT TO ANOTHER SCHOOL: And when I say commit, I mean send in your money when the time comes that you need to do so, and also emotionally and mentally commit. Accept a place from one of your acceptances where you’ve fallen in love (or strong like or you can see yourself there) by the May 1 deadline or whatever your accepted college’s deadline is. Mentally Move On. Once you’ve made your deposit at a college, if your waitlist college comes along with some great news and you decide you want to pivot that way, then you just accept that spot and let the college where you’ve committed know. It’s common — it’s called Melt, and colleges expect it. You will more than likely, though, lose that deposit. (An aside: Don’t let go of your accepted spots before the deadline unless you are 100 percent sure that you won’t attend. Be doubly sure that all finances are gonna work out before you let go of spots.)
YOU STILL HAVE CHOICES: If you don’t have a school you’re ready to commit to, there are still lots of amazing schools accepting applications. Check out this post with some awesome colleges that are still accepting apps. I’ll be making an updated post with colleges that are still open within the next couple of weeks. (Or you could also decide to do a gap year or start at community college — all great choices.)
KEEP UP YOUR GRADES: You need to be keeping those grades up so that if the waitlist goes on into the summer and you want to stay on the list, you’ll be able to send them an update showing that you’re still going strong.
DON’T DO ANYTHING STUPID AT SCHOOL OR ON SOCIAL MEDIA OR DO ANYTHING ILLEGAL: If trouble finds you or you find trouble, I’m pretty sure that the waitlist offer won’t be extended, and yes, you’ll have to be honest.
💌 WRITING THE WAITLIST LOVE LETTER LOCI
Read the waitlist letter: Be sure to carefully read the waitlist letter from your college and see if they are even open to a LOCI. If they are and you decide you still want to take a spot on the waitlist, this WL-LOCI is your chance, so write the love letter of your life during the next couple of weeks. Hint — maybe don’t wait for Ivy Day to write your WL-LOCI for colleges where you’ve been waitlisted now. I don’t know if it makes a difference or not, quite frankly, but it’s good to get moving on those letters and let those colleges know how important they are to you.
📝 OTHER INFO YOU MIGHT FIND HELPFUL
Commit to another school; it’s ok to deposit at one school and then change your mind and let the first college know if you’re accepted off a waitlist and want to attend the waitlisted college. Keep in mind you might lose that deposit. (Also, FYI, you can ask for deposit fee waivers if that’s a financial burden for your family)
You can wait to deposit at your accepted college on the deadline, so you’re not sending a deposit you might lose if that’s a worry for you.
Follow the directions that a waitlist school sends you. If they have specific instructions in the letter or on the portal, do what they say.
If you accept a place on a waitlist and want the option to attend, send a LOCI if the school doesn’t advise you not to.