Tell your kid to stop crying and get their ass out of bed. If your kid was waitlisted at a college that they really, really, really want to attend, everyone on this team needs to be proactive!

Yes, some students get pulled off the waitlist. It happens. I know for a fact it does. But (of course there is a ‘but’), getting off a waitlist is akin to a magic trick. Not so easy to pull that rabbit out of a hat.

This year will be slim to no chance due to that thing called COVID.

The Waitlist

The college waitlist is akin to being the understudy to a play. Yes, you are qualified for admission, however, an offer for admission is predicated upon the availability of first year seats.

Each application cycle, Admissions sends out regular decision acceptances that when combined with Early Decision Acceptances, exceed the allotment of first year seats. Why? Because not every student accepts admission.

1. When a college admissions office sends out regular decision notices, accepted students typically have one month to accept or reject an offer of admission.

2. Many colleges require waitlisted students to notify admissions if they will accept their spot on the waitlist.

3. Colleges typically do not look at the waitlist until after accepted students submit their admission decision.

4. Waitlist movement is based on how many students accepted admission.

How to Play the Waitlist

The waitlist game clock starts ticking when a student receives their waitlist notification.

If a student wants to attend the college they are waitlisted at, they must get their act together fast. They have less than one month to do so!

Waitlist Must Do List

1. Write a letter to the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and the Regional Officer of Admissions.

2. The letter is critical: The student must convey this is their number one choice college and if accepted, would attend.

3. Since the regular decision application was submitted, if the student has received any awards, acknowledged recognition for achievement, or accomplished something extraordinary, the student must provide this supplemental information in the letter.

4. Students must maintain a high GPA — grades matter!

5. The only person that is permitted to advocate on behalf of the student via telephone is the Guidance Counselor. Under no circumstances can the student and/or family call Admissions.

Waitlist Prediction Class 2025

Let’s cut to the chase. In previous years, there could be movement on a waitlist. However, at top colleges there could be little to no movement off the list for the Class of 2025.

This year is unique due to COVID. In my opinion, there are several reasons why there will be little to no movement off the waitlist for the Class of 2025. And I do acknowledge this is really too bad for disappointed students.

Why will there be little to no movement off the waitlist this year?

1. More accepted students from class of 2024 deferred to the first year Class of 2025.

2. Not as many students accepted to multiple top colleges for Class of 2025.

3. Historic low Early Decision Regular Decision rates Class 2025.

The Plan

The graduating high school senior must have a plan to proceed. Take the waitlist with a grain of salt this year. Pat yourself on the back for making it on the waitlist, yes, you are indeed qualified to attend.

However, you need to look beyond the waitlist at your current opportunities. Meaning, what colleges are you accepted to, and which is your best choice to attend?

Colleges have enrollment deadlines, usually by May 1. All students ought to review with parents, college and guidance counselors the best choice college for them to accept admission. A non-refundable deposit will be required to secure this acceptance.

Take a deep breathe. This has been an unprecedented challenging year. Be proud of your accomplishments and keep going forward.


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