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Waitlisted? Write a Letter of Continued Interest

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It’s April, and the decisions are in. The long awaited regular decision applications have been read, evaluated; the deferrals have been sorted out and the verdict is in; Waitlist! What do you do?

This has been a particularly confusing and difficult year. The pandemic deeply affected the ability of students to obtain standardized test prep, visit schools, participate in clubs, sports, extracurriculars and community service activities. Resumes were no longer as stellar as they might have been; one might say the omissions spoke volumes. It was “potential to succeed” that was evaluated and celebrated this year. On some level the tried and true student wound up on the waitlist (we know they will attend if admitted) so schools reached deep into the pool and admitted students who might not have applied but for the pandemic.

So you’re one of those tried and true students. Had you applied early decision to one of the schools to which you are waitlisted, you might not be in this position. But hindsight is 20/20. But don’t give up hope. Waitlists do move — here’s what you do: Write a heartfelt, sincere email to the college admissions office or a particular college admissions officer.

  1. Express your appreciation for being considered in the regular decision pool and your disappointment of being waitlisted. Reiterate that the school is your first choice and you will definitely attend if admitted. You would be honored and proud to attend.
  2. Update the admissions officer about all the activities you have continued since submitting your application. Give details about leadership positions in clubs, sports teams, community service activities and jobs. This matters and shows work ethic and initiative.
  3. Most importantly, discuss that your grades have stayed solid and strong. The fact that you did not slack off in senior year speaks volumes.
  4. Here’s the kicker and the trick: Offer to visit and speak to any admissions representative that will speak with you. Articulate that your desire to attend is so strong that you are willing to come to campus and carry your resume to plead your case in person. This is the ultimate show of demonstrated interest. It very often works.

While the news of being waitlisted may feel incredibly disappointing today, I assure you that waitlists do experience movement. Plan to deposit at your back up school by May 1st and expect that a wait list position might not open up until June or July. This is not personal; and you’re not alone. Always remember there are many schools that will make you happy and try to make the most of the choices that you have.

Good luck!

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