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  • Eric Stutman

What it means to be on a college waitlist


After all of that work applying to a college, and then waiting to hear a decision, you have been "waitlisted".

Q: Why do colleges have waitlists?

A: Every year, each college has to guess (estimate) how many of the students they accepted will take them up on their offer and submit a deposit before May 1st. If too few students accept their offer, they will have empty beds in the fall which means they will lose money! Therefore, schools put some students who just missed the cut on their waitlist just in case they still have a few spaces after May 1st.

Q: Why do colleges claim that waitlists are not ranked? How can that be?

A: Waitlists aren't ranked because colleges don't know what type of students they will need until they see what types of students sent in a deposit. For example, maybe after May 1st they still have room for two Civil Engineering students and one who will play Sousaphone in the band. They will call students with these specific profiles to see if they want to attend, even if they weren't at the "top" of their waitlist.

Q: How and when will I hear if I get accepted from the waitlist?

A: Schools will typically list on their website how long the waitlist window will extend into the summer. It's possible you get an email or call from them on May 2nd, or into June, July, or even August. By that time, you may have attended orientation at the school you sent a deposit to in April, and may have your roommate picked! You will typically have only two or three days to make up your mind, so the school can call the next Sousaphone player on their list if you say no thanks.

Q: What's the likelihood I get accepted from the waitlist?

A: Sorry, but I can't say. If the school estimated well this year, then they may not take anyone from the waitlilst. If you are willing to wait, accept the waitlist from the school and see if you get a call. You should know ahead of time what your answer will be. Good luck!

More questions? Contact Eric today.


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