By the end of this week, high school seniors all over the country will know which colleges have accepted, rejected or wait listed them. Being wait-listed can feel like you are in limbo. The college hasn’t rejected you but it also hasn’t accepted you.
What should a wait-listed student do?
If a student still wants to be considered for admission, he should let the college know that he wants to remain on the wait-list. Many students who have been wait-listed will not want to remain on the list and they should let the colleges know that they will be attending another college.
I think it is very hard for students to know what to make of being wait-listed. If they know they really want College X and other students they know have been accepted but will not be attending, they may think that there will automatically be room. Some colleges have tremendous wait-lists. A few years ago, I read about a very competitive university that wait-listed more students than they actually accepted. And, at that time, they had not gone to their wait-list for many years. Some colleges will rank their wait-list and others will not.
It is perfectly reasonable for a wait-listed student to call admissions and ask about the wait list. Do they categorize or rank the list in any way? If so, where am I on the list? Have they gone to the wait list in the past few years? Will there be financial aid available if I am accepted off the wait list? Whether or not they will go to the wait list this year depends on how well the admissions committees made their decisions on who to accept and what their yield will be. If they have hit their mark, there will probably be little, if any, movement off the wait list. After the May 1 deposits, colleges can see where they stand.
Do students get invited off the wait list? Yes, sometimes at some colleges. And at some colleges more than others.
Emotionally, a student should think of the wait-list as a rejection because he needs to put his energy, enthusiasm and focus into choosing from among the colleges that have accepted him. He should try and attend the admitted student events that his accepted colleges are hosting. And then the student needs to make his choice and send in the deposit by May 1 to one college. If he is invited off the wait list, then it should come as a happy surprise, but it is best not to hold out for this to happen.