Early spring brings more than crocuses . . . regular decision applicants and those students who were deferred earlier in the process finally receive an admission decision – or do they?
This year we are seeing a continued trend in waitlisting students. This practice leaves students in limbo for another few months, still uncertain about their college choices and families increasingly confused about how to proceed.
What’s Behind this Growing Trend
Several factors play into this trend. First, and perhaps most importantly, colleges are inundated with applications: many applicants took advantage of test-optional policies and broadened their list of colleges. Many applied “blind” as visiting was out of the question. Also, families are seeking the most advantageous financial aid packages. Overwhelmed with the number of applications (some schools up 30-100%) and flummoxed by how to treat test-optional candidates, many colleges are using the waitlist. Some are even under-enrolling.
How This Benefits Colleges and Universities
Using a waitlist can impact yield, a factor in rankings, and colleges can learn quickly who will attend. They reach out with an offer to attend, oftentimes giving students a 48-hour window to reply. Rarely, if ever, do waitlisted students receive any kind of financial aid.
Not every student who is accepted from the waitlist will attend, however, as there is often a sense of fatigue in the process. This year, in particular, students are exhausted from what has been a tumultuous search and application process, and we are already hearing “no thank you” to the waitlist option from our students.
First, Consider this Advice
1. Celebrate your acceptances. Students have demonstrated both flexibility and resilience throughout this difficult year, and acceptances deserve congratulations.
2. Seriously evaluate the financial aid packages and cost of attendance at the colleges where you have been accepted so that you can consider this in your decision-making.
3. Visit campuses where you have been accepted, if possible.
4. Be sure you have a clear timeline on when you would be notified of a waitlist acceptance. Be realistic about waitlist situations. Don’t chase a school just because it is still out of reach.
5. Consider your emotional well-being. We have often advised, “Stay in control of the factors you can control.”
1. If you want to remain on the waitlist, do your research. Last year, Lehigh accepted 1,684 students from its waitlist of 1,875. Clemson, for instance, admitted 6.
2. Follow your college’s instructions. If they want more materials, send them. If they tell you not to visit and not to send letters, don’t!
3. Reply as quickly as possible, as these responses are often time-stamped.
4. You have until May 1 to make a decision about where you will attend next year. Be sure you have secured a seat at a college by then.
We are here to assist you in any way – you know how to reach us!