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What to do if You're Waitlisted

Last updated May 31, 2021

Finding out you’re on a college’s waitlist can be upsetting. You weren’t accepted, but on the bright side you also weren’t rejected. Being in this gray area - having to wait to see if a spot becomes available and the school officially accepts you - makes deciding on a college even more challenging. So what do you do? Being waitlisted does not mean you should wait to make a college decision, instead follow these five steps to improve your chances of being admitted.

Step 1 - Take some time to let it settle in

You may have been prepared for an acceptance or rejection letter, but being waitlisted? What now? Read your letter thoroughly, take a deep breath, and take some time to let the response settle in. Maybe step away for a minute to journal, meditate, or exercise. Taking care of yourself after every college application decision is important to make sure you respond with a clear and settled mind.

Step 2 - Decide if the school is worth the wait

This is probably one of the most important steps - is this school worth the wait? Take some time to decide if this school is still a top choice for you. Many waitlist decisions don’t come until after May 1st or even into early summer. Make sure this school is worth the wait. If it’s are no longer a top contender, it is nice to let the school know so they can adjust their waitlist rankings for other potential students.

Step 3 - Write a letter to show your continued interest

If your waitlisted school is still a top choice try writing a letter to the admissions office to show your continued interest in attending their school. Write a letter to provide more information about your accomplishments or interests while emphasizing your desire to attend their school. If the school decides to offer you placement in the fall they want to know you are likely to accept the offer and be a good fit for the school.

Step 4 - Stay vigilant as you finish high school

This is the time to focus in class, study hard, and get the best grades possible. Some schools may reevaluate your waitlist status on your grades senior year so don’t let them slip. It’s important to show how you continued to work hard and focus on your academics.

Step 5 - Don’t miss another opportunity while waiting

Have you ever heard the expression, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? Despite being waitlisted at one school, you should still accept enrollment at a different school. You don’t know if your waitlisted school will ever accept you - we’ll keep our fingers crossed for good news - but by accepting admissions somewhere else you guarantee you’ll have a college to go to in the fall. Yes, this likely means that you have to pay a deposit, but you don’t want to give up your spot in a college that wants you!

Being on a waitlist can create more questions than answers and Get Schooled is here to help. For help with your college decision - and all other college questions - text #College to 33-55-77 for free support from our college advisors.

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