As frustrating as it might be to be “waitlisted” in the school of your choice, there are a few mitigating factors that should be considered to alleviate your anxiety and help you take action. First, take a deep breath, cool off your emotions and consider the following situation:
Schools have a limited number of seats and cannot accept every application they receive. The fact that you were waitlisted means that you are considered as a candidate, however there was initially no room to accept all of their good fits into the freshman class. This is not about you, it is about the capacity the college has at this time.
You may be able change the “waitlist” for an “acceptance” if you are willing to invest some effort and energy, with no guarantees.
First (and absolutely necessary), take a step back and review your options. Is that college your absolute first choice? If so, can you come up with 5 reasons why you want to attend that college and not any other in my list of acceptances? If your answer is inconclusive, or your reasons are not particularly serious, there is no need to go through the stress. Get off the waiting list, accept another one of your options, and enjoy you college career. I must say, in many cases this ends up working for the best! If, however, you think that it is imperative that you to attend that school where you are wait-listed and no other, there are a few things you might consider:
Do some introspection into what kind of candidate you are, and what you would bring to that school. For example, would you enhance one of their programs? Are you gifted in something that would benefit the student body, academics, or life on campus? Be specific! Identify your traits and what they would add to their particular programs (you will need to do some research online)
With this information, write a letter of interest to the regional admissions counselor, and explain why you are such a great candidate for the school. Again, be specific. You can “toot your horn” a little bit, but stay away from bragging, arrogance, and gross exaggeration. You want to project an image of a thoughtful and mature prospective student.
Remember the squeaky wheel? Yes, you can be one but don’t be annoying. You want your application to be pulled out from the pile to be reviewed and considered, not tossed in the garbage.
You might want to send the college an additional letter of recommendation, from a school counselor or alumni. Colleges value relationships! If your academics have improved since you submitted your application, be sure to let them know.
Consider that colleges want to fill the seats they have offered (this is called “yield”). Yield is important to colleges. They will see with a positive light that a student whom they consider a good fit, will happily fill the seat if offered to him/her. So…demonstrated interest can go a long way!
Are you still doubtful about what to do? Let’s chat!
Bettina Weil, LMSW, IEC