10 Things Not To Do If You’re Waitlisted

Waitlist, College Waiting List, Waitlist Limbo
Is mom thinking of making a call to admissions to lobby on her daughter’s behalf? If so, think again.

When students are waitlisted, we find their initial instincts (along with their parents’ initial instincts) on how to go about trying to get off that waitlist and earn a spot in the incoming class are a bit, well, out of wack. There’s a right way and a wrong way on how to go about giving yourself the best chance possible of earning admission and ending the dreaded admissions limbo. And while we’ve focused many times over the years on how students should go about attacking the waitlist, we figured we’d focus today on ten things students should absolutely not be doing after being placed on a waitlist. And where did we come up with these ten terrible, horrible, no good, very bad approaches? From the thoughts of students (and parents) over the years who first came to us after being waitlisted.

What Not To Do When Waitlisted

10. Don’t call the admissions office to check in and tell them what you ate for breakfast. Don’t call them at all.

9. Don’t go hit the road and pay them a visit. They don’t want to see you. Don’t pitch a tent outside their office either. That’s weird!

8. Don’t inundate them with updates on all the things you’ve achieved since you first applied just a few months ago. News flash: you probably haven’t achieved all that much in just a few short months and bragging isn’t exactly going to inspire admissions officers to root for you.

7. Don’t bake admissions officers a cake. Or a pie. No baked goods!

6. Don’t ask your mom to ask her super important friend to ask a senator or governor to make a call to admissions on your behalf. They’re not going to be impressed.

5. Don’t send admissions a photo album to recount to them your childhood (you’d be surprised — we heard this idea once!).

4. Make sure mom or dad doesn’t contact admissions on your behalf. Even if they’re pretending to be you. Even Elizabeth Holmes from the defunct Theranos couldn’t maintain her fake voice at all times. And look what happened to her!

3. Writing an email that the school remains your first choice isn’t going to convince them that you really mean it. Show. Don’t tell.

2. Don’t sit on that offer that asks if you wish to remain on the waitlist. Accept it immediately. Why wait? Don’t let them think you’ve got sour grapes.

1. Don’t not send an incredibly powerful, compelling Letter of Enthusiasm. It’s precisely what you should be doing. And, yes, we help students write such letters to optimize their case for admission off of dreaded college waitlists. And while you’re here, read more about what you should do.


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