At this time of year college and prep school hopefuls are getting their admissions decisions. For some, they'll get neither an acceptance or a denial, but instead will receive placement on the school's waitlist.
Being placed on the waitlist can be a mix of frustration, disappointment, stress, and a lack of understanding. For starters, it means that a candidate has the credentials to be admitted, but for any number of reasons, the school simply wasn't ready to accept you.
Just as the admissions process is an uncertain venture for you, the school is also going through their own levels of uncertainty. They have no real idea of knowing just who accepts an admissions offer when they extend them, and enrolling too many students can be a burden. This waitlist gives the admissions team flexibility in making the best decisions they can all while maintaining a preferred size of incoming class. Of the accepted group, if too few students and families decide to enroll, the school will be able to admit students off of the waitlist in order to fill the quota they are looking to attain for their incoming freshman class.
Keep in mind that a college may also utilize the waitlist in the effort to fill particular areas of the student body, in the event where there may be too few students with a particular major.
If the school that you are waitlisted at is the school of your dreams, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Yes, you'll have to wait a bit longer to see if you gain admittance, and in some cases the odds of getting in off of the waitlist are slim, but you CAN improve those odds by being forthright and proactive!
Writing a letter (or email) as a follow-up to your waitlist correspondence is a great idea. The college didn't deny your application outright - which is good - so there's an understanding that you might have what it takes to be a candidate at their school. This letter - sent to the Head of Admissions as well as your area's specific admissions representative - is to help in showing the school that you DO have what it takes. If they do not hear from the waitlisted students, they will not have any way of knowing your interest level. If you take your future in your own hands, and send a letter that entails just how badly you want to become a part of their school and community, you will be able to move yourself squarely into their attention, shifting yourself towards the top of the waitlist pile!
There are many different ways that this letter can be written, but it's core is very straightforward: let the college know that you are definitely still interested in attending, even if it means waiting to get that official admission. A version of this letter looks a lot like:
Dear Mrs./Mr. LAST NAME,
Thank you for reviewing my application and for allowing me the opportunity to be on the waitlist. SCHOOL is my top choice, and a priority of mine -- if I was to be accepted I would absolutely attend.
Please let me know if there is any additional information you may need from me at this time or in the near future.
Again, I thank you, I hope to hear from you soon, and I'm hopeful to one day soon be a part of the SCHOOL community.
Can the team here at LAC help you with expanding on this waitlist letter? From admissions information to athletic recruiting guidance, do not hessite to contact us with questions!