college waitlist chancesBeing on the waitlist can be very taxing on the nerves. It is good to have all of the details of what this means so you can put your mind at ease.

It’s called the waitlist for a reason. First you have to wait…and wait. And then you wait some more, all the while wondering about your college waitlist chances. As the time goes on, you can’t help but let the same question keep playing on repeat in your head: Do I even have a chance?

Being waitlisted for college is nerve wracking; waiting to see if the school of your dreams is going to give you the acceptance you’ve been hoping for. Of course, there isn’t a foolproof formula for determining your college waitlist chances, but there are some indicators that you can look for.

Why do colleges have a waitlist?

The waitlist is basically a tool that colleges use to separate students that can be admitted down the road if room suddenly becomes available in the class. Colleges know that the students they’ve accepted may decline to attend, which will create a gap in attendance that will need to be filled.

The waitlist is full of students that meet the school’s standards, and who are ready and willing to say “yes” to attending that school. When a spot opens up, schools look to the waitlist to find a student that can fill the space.

They don’t choose just any student, though. Colleges tend to pick students who meet a certain need. Perhaps the school is in search of more Philosophy majors or more Lacrosse players. Colleges will take waitlisted students who fulfill these needs ahead of students who do not, so increase your college waitlist chances by having a diverse extracurricular background.

What are my college waitlist chances?

Unfortunately, college waitlist chances are slim. On average, colleges accept about one fourth of the waitlisted students. At more selective schools, like the Ivies, even less are accepted.

That doesn’t mean it’s not possible for a waitlisted student to get accepted, though! You have to be willing to put in some work and bear the unknown for a while. But it’s possible.
If this is your dream school and you want to stay on the list, then you should go for it. Even if you don’t get accepted, at least you’ll know that you did all you could do and you won’t have any regrets down the road.

To stay on the waitlist, follow the procedures outlined in your letter to accept your spot. Keep in mind that your school may have already given out most of its financial aid to accepted students, so you’ll need to look for more options to pay for college on My Red Kite.

During this time, it’s okay to remain positive and hopeful– but you should still play it safe. Reserve a back up school, just in case. Send in your deposit to guarantee your spot at your second-choice school, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re definitely going to school in the fall. You should be planning on attending this college, so do what you need to to ensure your attendance there, including starting to look for financial aid.

Decipher your college waitlist chances

Your college waiting list letter should give you a little insight into your chances of being accepted. Look for information regarding your rank on the list and how many waitlisted students were accepted last year.

If this information isn’t included in the waitlist letter, call the school’s admissions office to ask for it. While you’re on the phone, also be sure to ask if there are any financial aid restrictions for students on the waitlist. You need to be able to start planning financially, in case you are accepted off the waitlist.

Try to relax!

If you did the following things, you’ve done all you can possibly do to improve your chances of being accepted:

  • Sent a follow up letter that expresses how eager you are to attend. Then followed up by phone a few days later.
  • Sent updates on your grades, awards and other accomplishments to show your school that you’ve been improving academically.
  • Asked for new recommendation letters, from different teachers, and sent them to your school.
  • Avoided looking desperate! Because following up too many times is never a good thing.

So, first of all, take some comfort in the fact that you did everything you could to better your chances of being accepted off of the waitlist. And try not to go crazy playing the waiting game, constantly weighing your college waitlist chances!

No matter what happens, don’t get discouraged. Remember that it’s not where you get your education, but what you do with your education that really matters!