Final Steps for Waitlisted Students
Get Off the “Wait” List and On the “Yes” List
by Jodi Okun
The May 1st acceptance deadline for most colleges has passed, and they are finally getting a better picture of which students have accepted their offers to become part of their freshman class in the fall. That also means they know how many spaces they still have left to offer to students who were initially waitlisted. If you have not already moved on or been accepted by another college, here are a few final steps you can take to try to get accepted:
- Contact the Admissions Office: If you are really attracted to a particular school, let them know that you are still interested and hope to be taken off the waitlist. Provide an update if anything has changed since you applied in terms of grades or activities that might make you a better fit with their student body.
- Be Prepared to Make a Decision: The school might try to force your hand by asking you to make a decision quickly. Be sure you have all your ducks in a row so that you will be able to answer this question with a firm “yes” or a possible “maybe” upon further review of their financial aid package. Make sure you have completed your homework on the school’s cost of attendance. You need a good handle on your complete financial aid situation, so you can make an informed choice about whether you can actually afford to attend this school.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Discuss Financial Aid: If you finally do get an offer from a hoped-for college, take your time to think it over logically, even if they are putting pressure on you to accept. Compare their financial aid package with other offers you have received. If it is not up to snuff with your other options, you either have to ask if they can provide additional financial aid or decide if you are willing to not attend that school because of money. These can be some hard choices, but going to a school you can’t really afford could mean many years of financial difficulties for you and your family.
- Do Your Research Regarding Scholarships and Student Loans: Since it is possible that some forms of financial aid at a particular school may have already been exhausted, you must be prepared in advance to know how you are going to cover your expenses. Apply for as many scholarships as you can, and do your research on federal and private student loans so you know how much money you will have available to make up any gap between costs and financial aid.
Don’t despair totally if you don’t get an answer right away in May. Some students have been accepted off a waitlist as late as August, but don’t leave that as your only option either. Review your secondary choices, apply to some colleges with later acceptance deadlines or rolling admissions, or think about attending a local or community college for a few years before trying for a transfer.
If your heart was set on this college for some reason, try to determine if you could be happy somewhere else. You might be surprised to find out how much you enjoy it once you get on campus and start attending classes. Being on a waitlist isn’t a rejection of you personally; the college admissions process is a balancing act between available slots and received applications. There is a college out there where you can grow as a student – now you just have to find it!