How to Deal When You've Been Waitlisted

In College Admissions on May 31, 2016

You've sent off your college applications and you're anxiously awaiting a letter of acceptance from your dream school ... and then you find out you've been waitlisted.

Believe it or not, being waitlisted is not the end of the world! Here's what to do so you can move past that waitlist. 

1. Write to the Admissions Committee
Update your application essay and send a new copy off to the admissions team. Remind them of your strong interest in the school and if this college is your first choice and you'd definitely enroll if accepted, mention this in your letter. Don't, however, promise to accept your admission if you're not 100 percent sold on the school. 

Don't make your new admissions essay a desperate plea for admission and definitely do not just repeat your original essay. Convey new information, like any new test scores or grades you've received or awards you've been granted. If you've been following the college closely in anticipation of being admitted, you may be able to mention specific professors you'd like to work with and classes you'd like to take. Remain positive throughout the essay, and don't forget to thank the admissions team for taking the time to read your letter.

2. Submit Another Recommendation Letter
If you're really hoping to prove yourself, send in another recommendation letter. Just as you'll want to send a new essay, you'll also want a new letter of recommendation - don't ask the same teacher, counselor or mentor to just send another letter on your behalf). Ask one of your senior year teachers to write one that takes into account all the hard work you've put in this year, especially if your initial recommendations were from teachers you had sophomore or junior year. If you've completed a big volunteer project, community service initiative or internship since you initially applied to your dream school, don't be shy to ask one of the supervisors you had for a recommendation. 

3. Visit Campus Again
If you can, make a second trip to campus. You may want to send an email to the admissions team before you go, just to let them know you'll be on campus if they want to meet with you again. Taking another visit also confirms your interest in the school, which could be a benefit in getting you past the waitlist. 

4. Reach Out to Your Alumni Interviewer
Some schools ask you to speak with an alumni during the application process. If you had to do this, reach out to your interviewer thanking them for talking to you and updating them on your application status. You can mention how excited you would be to attend the school and ask for any advice they have about additional materials or information you can submit to the admissions team that may boost your chances of getting in. Your alumni contact may not have any concrete advice, but may pass a message to the admissions office letting them know how excited you are about the prospect of getting in. 

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