Accepted, Rejected, or Waitlisted

Spring is nearly here, and so is the last round of college admissions notifications. Among these notifications, students usually get a mix of acceptances, rejections, and some offers to be put on waitlists.

If you’re like many seniors who are still uncommitted to a specific college, the waitlist option may seem a bit confusing.

We at Moxie are here to help with some suggestions for designing a waitlist plan of action.

What does getting “waitlisted” really mean?

A waitlist is one of many tools used by college admissions offices to manage their enrollment. It provides colleges a way to calibrate the number of students they enroll in a Goldilocks fashion – neither too many nor too few but just right. Generally, students on waitlists are genuinely qualified, admissible, and desirable to admissions officers. In other words, an offer to have a spot on the waitlist means the school wants you! But unfortunately, it also probably means that they don’t have the space to admit all the qualified applicants hoping to attend their institution. 

Can you predict how a waitlist will move?

What happens next is hard to predict. That’s because what’s important to a college one year may change the next. Each cycle, admissions officers are tasked with putting together a unique combination of first-year students based on the college’s institutional goals – much like putting together a new puzzle. Since every class is determined by a set of factors unique to that year’s needs, how colleges use their waitlists will depend on the pieces they need to complete the puzzle. As we help students understand their particular waitlist situation, we generally discourage them from relying on what schools have done in recent years to predict what might happen. It takes an understanding of the most current information possible to get even an inkling of what may or may not happen.

Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

One of the most essential considerations for admissions offices is the likeliness that a candidate will actually enroll if granted acceptance. If you’re sure you would like to attend a school that waitlisted you, let admissions know by sending what is known as a “letter of continued interest” (LOCI). A LOCI expresses your commitment to attend if admitted and, more importantly, explains why you are so committed to that school. Of course, do this only if you truly want to attend this school over one that has already made the wise choice to accept you.

There are other ways to optimize your chances of getting off a waitlist specific to the particular college and the particular student. Moxie helps students draft compelling LOCIs and consider other effective and appropriate options depending on their situation.

Don’t Overthink Being Waitlisted

Waitlists do move, but there is no way to know how and how much. If you are waitlisted, don’t overthink it. Discuss your plan with your family and trusted advisers, carry it out, and then focus on the college options that you already have. Your offer letter to remain on the waitlist likely expressed a similar message to focus on the colleges that already accepted you, which is good advice.

If you need help navigating any college admissions notifications, Moxie is here to help.