You’ve been waiting days, weeks, months, all for an envelope with the college of your dream’s emblem. And one day, you receive one. You scramble to open it, and hurriedly read the letter inside:
“The admissions committee has completed a review of thousands of applications to the college, and we regret to inform you…”
Your heart sinks. Is there any reason to continue reading? Nevertheless, the time that you’ve invested in your application and this school obligates you to continue, and so you do:
“…that you have been placed on the waiting list. If there are any additional places for our college’s Class of 201x, we will review your application again.”
In some ways, being waitlisted is actually the worst thing that can happen to a student when applying to universities. Acceptance is the best outcome, of course, and rejection, although being an unfavorable outcome, is definite. The waitlist, however, is shrouded in uncertain and perhaps illusory hope. It bears a glint of light – the possibility of late acceptance – but how can a student know whether he or she should continue waiting for something good to happen?
According to National Association of College Admissions Counselors as quoted by the Education.com, making it into a college from the waitlist generally only happens for 1 in 5 students. With those statistics, although the list is called a waitlist, realistically, it’s not smart to simply wait.
But what can you do? You DO have a few options. You can decide to live with the decision and expect to be in the 4/5. In this case, you should continue the registration process with other schools that did accept you, and prepare to go to one of these other schools. Even then, all is not lost. If you work extremely hard and become even more competitive, then in a year or two, you can apply to your dream school as a transfer student.
Even more viable is to perform extremely well for four years, and then try (with a fresh start) to reapply for graduate school. Many times, where you go for your undergraduate education is not as important as where you go for graduate school, because the networking you make at the upper level can go much further.
However, if you want to be that rare 1 in 5, there are still things you can do to help your chances. Make sure to get in contact with an admissions specialist at the school (on a name to name basis so they know who you are.) Whenever you continue to achieve in competitions, in school, or in the community, keep them posted on these accomplishments. There is no guarantee that you’ll suddenly be admitted, but your name will be on their lips if a spot comes up. It might be the boost you needed.
Remember not to be obnoxious. One person once said that “All publicity is good publicity,” but in the realm of college admissions, don’t take chances. There *is* such a thing as a bad impression, and too frequent communications can leave one of those. But as long as you are smart about your decisions and smart about the ways you spend your final months in high school, you might be the one that defies the odds.