College Waitlist: What Your Child Should Do


The college application season is a stressful time for both students and parents. Many are narrowing down their school choices, taking the SAT and ACT exams, writing their college personal essays, and visiting various college campuses.


Your child has sent in their applications and the long wait for the letter with their decision seems like a lifetime. No one said it would be easy... but what are you supposed to do when your child discovers that they were placed on the waiting list of their dream university?


Parents and students have asked us what steps they should take after they have been waitlisted by one of their top choices. While it can be discouraging, we hope that today's blog will help guide students or parents feeling helpless about what to do about the waitlist verdict.

To decipher what you need to do about your child's waitlist offer, you need to first understand what the waitlist is. Students placed on the waitlist should not consider this a rejection from the college of their choosing. In actuality, the university has deemed your child as qualified and competent for admissions to their campus. However given the current campus size and space, they do not presently have room to accept you.


As mentioned in our previous post last Friday, the increasing trend toward early action (EA) and early decision (ED) is increasing. This holds true as well for more and longer waitlists. As many colleges waitlist hundreds to thousands of students, not all will accept the spot — increasing the odds for those that do.


Ask Yourself Important Questions

Start by asking your child (or yourself, if you are the student) "why is this college my first choice"? Carefully reevaluate your level of interest and passion for a school that you have been waitlisted at. What are the pros and cons of this particular school versus the others that you have been accepted at?


If you are truly devoted to your first-choice, accepting the waitlist can be difficult — as it delays finalization of your college decision. Here are 2 important things to remember as a waitlisted student:

  1. Academic ratings for the next period are crucial: your grades will need to illustrate steady progress and a rising course.

  2. Communication with the admission officer: show your gratitude for the opportunity and bring him/her up-to-date with your latest achievements or developments in an extracurricular you were especially interested in.

Remember that the student should be taking these steps to illustrate their passion and dedication to the first-choice college or university. While parents may want to take charge of the communication, allow your child to advocate for themselves. The admissions officer or dean of admission will appreciate and recognize a devoted student when they see one.


Enrollment Deposit At Another School

Whether or not your child decides to remain on the waitlist for a particular college (or more), we highly recommend that they should still proceed with the acceptance process at another institution or backup schools.


Guarantee that your child will have a place in the new class by making the deposit. All necessary forms and documentation should be completed alongside with all freshmen orientations. As your child begins to visualize and recognize other schools that have accepted them, their opinions and decision about remaining on their previous waitlisted first-choice may change.


No matter what, if the student is not accepted from the initial waitlist, the individual will have a place secured at another outstanding college in the fall.


In today's blog post, parents and students seeking advice on the dreaded waitlist response. While it can be disheartening, the waitlist should not stop your child from their future success in college.


This article is an update from our previous post, "What To Do If I Am Waitlisted From UC Schools?"


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