Don’t be alarmed if you’ve been waitlisted by a college because it certainly isn’t bad. While it’s an uncomfortable and stressful position to be in, there’s no denying that your application was good enough not to get rejected.
And there are various things you can do to improve your chances of getting in. Keep reading as we consider what percentage of waitlisted students get accepted and tips for how to get off the waitlist.
What Does It Mean If You’re on a College Waitlist?
The college waitlisted meaning refers to the list of applicants to which the institution may or may not offer admission. Essentially, these applicants are put on hold when regular decisions come out and will be admitted if space opens. Depending on the university, the number of students taken off the waitlist and offered a spot varies yearly.
Perhaps you’re offered a place on the college waitlist. In that case, you can either decline the invitation instantly if you’ve already decided to attend another college or accept the offer and have your name added to it. You’ll be able to secure admission if and only if the university’s freshman class still has spots that need to be filled.
A few schools even rank the applicants on their waitlists, so if you rank highly, you have a greater possibility of securing admission to the college of your dreams. However, most colleges don’t follow any ranking system and base their decisions on factors such as which applicants are most likely to attend if admitted and what majors they want to have represented.
What Percentage of Waitlisted Students Get Accepted?
Trends show that college waitlist numbers are even higher than usual and are expected to increase in the following years. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has upended standard admissions patterns and application processes, leaving schools uncertain about the future and how many students they should let in.
Since it’s also challenging for colleges to determine how many admitted students will accept their offers, the waitlisted acceptance rate has decreased over the years. Many highly qualified applicants are being waitlisted. This gives the institution a large and excellent applicant pool, extending invitations if accepted students opt to attend a different school.
And since many colleges are making the SAT or ACT test-optional over the past two years, more and more people are applying. According to a survey, 29% of waitlisted students secured admission on average in 2020.
What are the Chances of Getting Off the College Waitlist?
If you’ve been put on the waitlist of your dream school, your odds of getting in depends on the following factors:
- The strength of your overall application: The stronger your application is compared to other waitlisted students, the more likely you will move on to a full-blown acceptance. Although this is impossible to determine, you are probably a top candidate for admission if you have a GPA or test score in the 75th percentile or above.
- The locations or majors a school wishes its freshman class to represent: Suppose a school didn’t fill all its slots in the engineering department. Then, it is going to admit engineering majors off the waitlist first.
- Your rant on the waitlist list if the school ranks its applicants.
- The number of spots a college needs to fill for its freshman batch: You are less likely to be taken off the waitlist if not enough spots are available. On the other hand, the greater the number of spots, the greater the possibility you’ll be placed in your intended major.
- The likelihood of you attending if you’re admitted: Your chances of getting accepted increase once you actively demonstrate your interest in attending the school and showcase why you’re a good fit.
Do waitlisted students get admitted? Ultimately, how many students get waitlisted and whether an applicant will get accepted or not off the waitlist depends on the specific college. Many selective and popular schools receive thousands of applications from qualified students, with several ending up on the waitlist. For this reason, it isn’t easy to determine your odds of securing admission.
Another factor that significantly affects your chances is the year you apply, as the number and quality of applicants change slightly each year, along with a school’s specific needs. For example, an institution may be interested in admitting more majors in one year than in the previous one.
Let’s also consider the waitlist admission statistics of some popular universities to give you a clearer picture of what to expect as a waitlisted student. For Harvard’s class of 2024, 4.6% of accepted students were from the waitlist, while Brown University’s waitlist acceptance rate stands at 12.95%. Additionally, competitive schools like John Hopkins University have a low waitlist acceptance rate that lies between 5-7%.
When Do Waitlist Decisions Come Out?
As for the question of when do waitlist decisions come out? Most applicants are typically taken off the waitlist after May 1st, or when admitted students submit their decision to attend or not with the non-refundable deposit. Expect waitlist acceptances to roll out gradually during July, June, May, and even August. Still, keep in mind that not everyone gets the opportunity to be taken off the waitlist since some colleges only admit a few students or none at all in certain years.
Asking the college’s admissions team when they’ll notify waitlisted students regarding their acceptance is in your best interest because this will help you establish your own timetable. Contact them by email or phone, or check the university website to see whether their waitlist time frame is available.
What to Do If You’ve Been Waitlisted: 3 Tips
Here’s what you can do if your dream school has waitlisted you:
Make a Decision
When you’re put on the waitlist, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I want to decline the invitation to wait and just go to a different college?
- Should I stay on the college waitlist in the hopes of getting admitted?
- Is it my dream school?
- Is the college worth losing money on a non-refundable deposit to a different university if I do get off the waitlist?
- Will I be comfortable not hearing back from the institution right away and spending the entire summer stuck in a limbo state?
Once you obtain a waitlist offer, take some time to think about whether the school is worth being on the waitlist for.
Decline or Accept Your Waitlist Offer
You’ll have to officially accept the invitation from the school to confirm your sport on the waitlist; otherwise, you won’t be added to it. Unfortunately, this action typically has a deadline in mid-April or by May 1st. Check your waitlist notification letter or contact the school to find out the last day for giving your answer.
You won’t receive a spot on the waitlist unless you confirm your placement by the deadline. If you decide not to opt for the waitlist option, ensure that you notify the college of your decision as soon as possible.
Pick a College and Pay the Deposit
Even if you’re deciding to stay on the waitlist or not, you’ll have to pick a university that’s admitted to, even if it’s not your top choice. It’s always a good idea to have a backup, so go through every school you’ve secured admission to and consider what it offers. Think about important aspects like the type of professors who teach there, its popular majors, what the campus culture is like, its location and extracurriculars, and much more.
Research your options by visiting campuses, looking at official websites, and talking to former or current students. When you decide which college to attend, accept their offer and submit your non-refundable deposit.
How to Get Off the College Waitlist: 7 Tips to Get Admitted
In this section, we’ll delve into how you can get off the college waitlist:
- Write an email or letter stating that it be included in your portfolio. This written document should mention that if you are accepted, you will attend without any questions and that there are no uncertain terms from your side. We recommend discussing the specific reasons why you believe the school is the best fit for you.
- Don’t appear desperate or be a pest, especially if you really want your waitlist status to change.
- Communicate openly and let the college that has waitlisted you know that you are eager to attend.
- Try to get a new recommendation letter if possible. Ask someone who hasn’t written one for you before and can contribute new insights into your academic achievements or characters not mentioned in previous letters.
- With the last few months of high school brimming with events like prom, college acceptances, and graduation, staying on top of deadlines is essential. So be sure to continue focusing on your high school academics and don’t give up just because your dream school has waitlisted you.
- Immediately accept your spot on the waitlist, as you might not be considered otherwise. Some colleges expect you to send a reply core, while others require students to submit their decision online.
- Tell your guidance counselor how much you wish to attend that specific school. They can reach out to the college for you and ask whether they’ll be using the waitlist this year. Additionally, they can potentially figure out where you stand on the waitlist and your chances of getting in.
Wrapping Things Up: What Percentage of Waitlisted Students Get Accepted?
Is being waitlisted bad? The answer is no. Sure, there are limitations and realities at play here, but going the extra mile at times can make a huge difference in where you’ll go to college. As for the question of can you accept multiple waitlist offers? Yes, so consider all your options and keep your hopes up. It’s possible that your dream school will take you off the waitlist if you show them how interested you are in attending.