Being on the wait list means that you meet the minimal admission requirements of a college, but the college has already accepted the number of applicants it has space for. When the college has space after someone else rejected the offer, you may be given a space depending on how many students are on the waiting list. However, the college does not tell you whether or not you are offered a placement from the wait list until after May 1st. Another common explanation about the college wait list is that it is the college’s polite way of rejecting a student. This way, the student doesn’t feel as bad as if he/she is being directly rejected.
It is often difficult to tell your chance of acceptance into the college which is what makes being on the wait list a nightmare. Depending on the schools that you are being waitlisted, your chance of acceptance through the waiting list varies. For example, in 2012, Stanford University waitlisted 789 applicants and ZERO students gained admission from the waitlist. On the other hand, in that same year, Yale University waitlisted 1,001 students and seventy students (10%) gained admission. Even better, the University of Notre Dame offered admission to 1153 students out of the 2461 students on their wait list.
Your next step is to respond to the college whether or not you want to stay on the wait list. You should stay on the wait list only if you really want to attend the college or if the college is your first choice. In most cases, it is better to ignore the wait-list invitation. In the end, the schools that you applied to are the schools that you like, so why not just accept the admission to a school that welcomes you?
If you do decide to stay on the wait list, these are the things you can do to increase your chance of admission.
1. Find out your rank on the wait list by contacting the admissions office. The higher you rank means the higher chance of you getting accepted.
2. Write a letter to the admissions office that includes new achievement or accomplishment. Make sure to emphasize your desire of getting into the college and why the college is a good fit for you.
This is a table indicating some of American university waiting list statistic in 2012:
|College Name||Number Waitlisted||Number Accepted Waitlist Status||Number Offered Admission|
|University of Michigan at Ann Arbor||13615||4010||74|
|Johns Hopkins University||2730||2442||1|
|Purdue University at West Lafayette||1393||1368||165|
|Stony Brook University||2176||920||187|
|California Institute of Technology||651||457||0|
|University of Pennsylvania||2017||1249||87|
|Carnegie Mellon University||3664||1296||97|
|University of Washington at Seattle||2350||1215||588|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||978||650||43|
|University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign||2138||1296||437|