When Do Waitlist Decisions Come Out?

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You’ve applied for college and have done everything you should do. Now, you’re filled with hope and anticipation as you expect a positive response. However, the school may not directly accept or reject your application. They may put you on a waitlist. Understandably, you may have so many questions about this – one of them being, “When do waitlist decisions come out?” We have you covered. Here’s an article that answers all the questions you have about a college waitlist and how it affects your chances of admission.

What is the Process of College Waitlist?What is the Process of College Waitlist?

For starters, it’s important to explain what a college waitlist is. As the name signifies, a college waitlist consists of qualified applicants who have not been admitted but whose names the committee has kept on standby for replacement or addition to the college admission list. Getting on a college waitlist signifies that despite meeting all the criteria for admission, the school could not offer you admission at the time for various reasons. However, this doesn’t mean that the school has outrightly rejected you – instead, it means you still have a shot at getting admitted into the school.

Recent data published by the National Association of College Admissions Counselling (NACAC) showed that colleges admit up to 20% of students off their waitlist on the average. Another statistic showed that most schools place at least 10% of applicants on their waitlist. Interestingly, different schools adopt different strategies to take students off their waitlist.

So, getting waitlisted doesn’t necessarily mean the college is denying you admission. It means they’re keeping you on standby for further review or to replace some already admitted students.

Different schools have different reasons for placing students on the waitlist. However, here are the most common reasons why schools keep a waitlist.

  • Physical space: most schools consider physical space and resources when deciding the number of students to admit. However, not all admitted students will resume, often leaving more space than numbers admitted. When such happens, it’s usually more convenient for schools to fill the remaining space with students from their waitlist.
  • Uncertainty about students’ ability: we often see of hear about situations where admission officers get stuck between admitting some students or not. This mix of impressions is often due to a combination of impressive and non-impressive parts in students’ applications. Admission officers will rather place such students on a waitlist while the further scrutinize their applications to decide whether they should get an admission or not.

When Do Waitlist Decisions Typically Come Out?

When Do Waitlist Decisions Typically Come Out?

Although there’s no one-answer-fits-all date on the question “when do waitlist decisions come out?,” we can generally place a timeline. Admissions committees typically only begin to look at the applicants on their waitlist from May 1, or the deadline for admitted students to submit their decision to attend their choice college.

Most colleges will wait until this time to ensure that admitted students are ready to take all the spots allocated to their first-year classes. After the May 1 deadline, the school will weigh the number of admitted students who have accepted their admission before going to their waitlist to fill the remaining spots. So, you can expect waitlist admissions to roll out between May, June, and July. In some cases, it even gets to August, right before a new school year starts.

It’s also important to note that not every student on the waitlist will be admitted. In fact, we’ve seen instances where colleges fail to admit anybody from their waitlist.

How Long Does It Take to Get Off the Waitlist?

How Long Does It Take to Get Off the Waitlist?

Although waitlist students can typically begin to expect to hear from admission officers from May 1, it’s still important to note that there’s no timeline to it. You could hear back from them about their decision to take you off the waitlist in weeks. You could also wait months before receiving an official college waitlist acceptance or rejection. Some colleges may even accept students from their waitlist as space opens up, while others would wait until after National Decision Day (May 1) before they begin to accept students.

There’s also the slim possibility of not hearing back from a school about your waitlist status until a few weeks before the fall term starts.

What to Do If You Are Being Waitlisted?

What to Do If You Are Being Waitlisted?

While being waitlisted is not necessarily bad, learning about it can confuse or even worry you. But it shouldn’t, since it shows you still can be accepted. But while waiting for it, some students don’t know what they should do, so we see students getting confused and asking questions about what they should do.

The best thing to do is to remain calm and focused. Being on the waitlist doesn’t mean you’ve lost out on admission. Instead, it shows there’s still hope.

So, we recommend staying calm and focusing on what you can do to improve your chances. One of the things to do in this scenario is to research more about the school and ask questions about what the school typically looks for in potential students. It’s an opportunity to improve your application and prove why you deserve a spot in the school beyond your GPA and test scores.

The next section details tips and actions to improve your chances of getting admitted quickly.

7 Tips to Increase Chances of Getting Off the Waitlist

7 Tips to Increase Chances of Getting Off the Waitlist

We’ve talked so much about getting off the waitlist that you’re probably wondering how you can. You cannot decide for the admissions officers what to do, but you can take certain steps that can tilt the balance in your favor. Here, we’ve reviewed seven of such steps you can easily follow to move from a college waitlist to college admission list.

Accept or Reject a Spot on the Waitlist 

When schools send out waitlist notifications, they expect waitlisted applicants to either accept or reject their waitlist offer. If the school is truly your top choice and you don’t mind waiting a few more weeks, you should accept the waitlist offer.

However, if you do not intend to attend the school, the most logical thing is to reject the offer. In essence, the school wants to know whether you want to be on the waitlist no not before continuing with the admission amount.

Express Interest Again in the School

These days, it’s not just enough to accept being on the waitlist – you must demonstrate continued interest in the school, even if they don’t require additional follow-up.

Note that different colleges approach the waitlist differently. While some would require additional materials to proceed, others won’t necessarily look at the information you supplied. In any case, contact the admissions counselor for details on how to proceed. However, many schools consider demonstrated interest when admitting students from the waitlist, so it’ll be in your best interest to let the college know you’re still interested. Notwithstanding, it’ll be in your best interest to research your school’s waitlist policies to get a clue on how to proceed. You’ll usually see these policies on the school’s admission website.

Choose a Backup School

Being on an admission waitlist is not a guarantee for anything. So you can’t be sure you’ll gain admission, and because most schools won’t release their waitlist decisions until May 1, we recommend that you choose a backup school. Go on to accept the offer from your backup school and pay a deposit. You can always notify them about your change of plan if your first choice school takes you off the wait list and offers you admission. Just note that most schools won’t refund your initial deposit.

Improve Your Application

It’s not just enough to wait. You must continue to improve your chances where possible. One of the ways to do this is by sitting for exams like the SAT/ACT that can add more quality to your application. You can also get a better recommendation letter, or improve your extracurricular. Whatever the case, inform the admissions office of every new development.

Colleges typically watch out for your response to the waitlist notification. They want to know how you’ll cope with the pressure, and as such, they’ll most likely review your application again. So you want to do everything possible to show them you can do better if given the opportunity.

Follow Up

There’s no harm in following up to know where you stand with a school. If you’ve been waitlisted for a few weeks but still haven’t heard from the school, check in with the admissions officer to know what’s happening.

Politely ask about your application status. From their response, you can tell whether there’s anything that needs clarification or anything the admission office wants you to do to be moved from the waitlist.

Following up doesn’t have to be complicated, as a simple follow-up mail asking questions can go a long way to signify your interest and show admission officers that you’re a motivated student.

Remain Calm

The news that you’ve been waitlisted can come with mixed feelings. But you shouldn’t be sad, as that’s not the end of the road. The best thing to do is to remain calm, knowing you still can be admitted. Being calm can help you focus on what you should do to improve your chances.

If the news becomes overwhelming, you can always talk to a college admission counselor about your fear. They can help you calm down by giving you words of encouragement.

Be Ready to Decide If You Get Accepted 

Waitlist decisions won’t arrive until after May 1. By this time, you’re already a few paces behind on registration. As such, college admission officers want you to begin immediately, and that’s why they expect your response as soon as possible.

Therefore, it’s important that you hold a conversation with your family beforehand to discuss your options moving forward. Discuss topics like location, affordability, etc., before the admissions so that you can be ready to decide before you’re taken off the waitlist. Delaying your decision can cause you to lose the admission completely.

Wrapping Things Up: When Do Waitlist Decisions Come Out?

The process of waiting for a waitlist decision is quite complicated, but you can navigate it with the right information. While waiting for a waitlist decision, you want to plan for all financial outcomes.

Note that waitlist decisions come at different times, and what applies to one institution may not apply to another. If your name has been included in a waitlist, the first thing to do is to try to understand the process. Remain engaged with the college and scout possible options while awaiting the decision.

Understandably, the whole process can get overwhelming. If it does, we recommend speaking to an expert. Your school counselor can advise you on the best step for your unique scenario. Otherwise, follow the steps highlighted in this article, and you’ll be fine.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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