April 2010 Newsletter
As high school seniors are opening their admissions decisions from the colleges to which they applied, many students are finding that they are neither accepted nor rejected. Instead, the letter may started out something like this:
“Congratulations! I write to inform you that the Admissions Committee has found that you were one of our top candidates for admissions. However, due to a highly selective applicant pool this year, we have decided to postpone a final decision on your application, and your name has been placed on a waiting list of students to be considered for admission should vacancies occur later this spring. We realize this is not the news you wished to hear. Selecting a freshman class of 1,050 students from over 28,000 applicants is a formidable challenge. Although we would like very much to have you in the entering class, enrollment limitations make it impossible for us to offer you a place at this time. Please return the enclosed response card to let us know if you would like to be considered should additional openings become available. We hope that you will choose to remain on our waiting list and that we will, ultimately have good news for you.”
Congratulations? Are they kidding? Why couldn’t they have gotten right to the point? Perhaps this letter should instead begin by saying, “Welcome to limbo!”
What waitlisted students need to understand is that colleges devise a waitlist system as a cushion so that they end up with what they estimate as a targeted freshman class. For the waitlisted student it is important to know that sometimes schools never go to their waitlist because they have received deposits from that targeted number.
So what is a waitlisted student to do? If the student calls the college, he/she might be able to find out if in the past the college has gone to the waitlist, and if so, the number of students who were admitted from that list. The student can also ask when he/she might expect to hear. Most applicants don’t find out about their status until late May, June, and in some cases in the middle of the summer. Whatever the timeline, the response card needs to be returned immediately. The student also needs to read the letter carefully. In some cases the college is very clear about not wanting any additional letters of recommendation or phone calls on the student’s behalf.
If, however, the college is encouraging the applicant to be proactive, then the student should write what we call a ‘Letter of Enthusiasm’ explaining just why he/she wants to be admitted, and email the admissions counselor from the geographic area with a copy. This is where creativity counts! In this letter, and to paraphrase a famous president, the applicant needs to eloquently address two areas of importance: what the college can do for the student, but more importantly, what the student can do for the college.
For help in writing a powerful ‘Letter of Enthusiasm,’ and for more information in regard to other ways to turn a waitlist status into a letter of acceptance, contact Ivy Coach.
Whether or not you decide to stay on the waiting list, you must send in a deposit to your second-choice school by May 1st.