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Reasons Why You Might Have Been Waitlisted

Reasons Why You Might Have Been Waitlisted


What does it mean to be waitlisted? Most of the time, it means you have the academic credentials to be admitted, but for one reason or another, the admissions office wasn’t ready to accept you.

Schools use the waiting list to deal with the uncertainty of the admissions process. Just as students do not know whether they will be admitted, admissions offices do not know how many of the admitted students will accept offers of admission.

Too many students enrolling can be just as bad as too few. The waitlist gives the admissions office flexibility to maintain a good class size of incoming students. There is no similar mechanism for dealing with too many students accepting the offer of admission.

If too few students enroll, the admissions office will admit students off the waitlist until they have filled the incoming class. The school also might use the waitlist to fill specific gaps in the student body, such as too few students interested in particular academic majors.

Here are the most common reasons why applicants are placed on a waitlist:

  • If your parents are alumni, work for the college or are well-connected, you might have been waitlisted as a courtesy, to avoid offending your parents. Waitlisting softens the blow of rejection.
  • You might have been too strong a candidate. The college admissions office might have been certain that you would be admitted by a much more prestigious college. The admissions office might have been concerned about your commitment to enrolling at their college and placed you on a waiting list to determine how keen you are to be accepted.
  • There may have been flaws in your application that made you a borderline candidate. Maybe your grades weren’t strong enough. Maybe your participation in extracurricular and volunteer activities lacked depth.
  • There simply were too few spaces available. There might have been too many students with your particular set of credentials or academic interests. The applicants who were admitted were just slightly better than you in some arbitrary way or applied earlier.

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