Courtesy Waitlist

University Waitlists, Courtesy University Waitlists, Courtesy College Waitlisting

Why do colleges waitlist students as a courtesy? Relationships and their bottom line.

What’s a courtesy waitlist, you ask? There was an article yesterday in “Charlotte Observer” by Lee Bierer entitled “The curse of the courtesy ‘wait-list’” that mentions a few points about waitlists at highly selective colleges that are absolutely true, points we’ve mentioned before both on our blog and in the press. In the piece, Bierer writes that highly selective colleges often waitlist students who they have no intention of ever admitting.┬áTo get a better and more complete handle on the subject, you might want to read one of Bev’s pieces in “The Huffington Post” entitled “The Secret Sauce of the College Waitlist.”

And just why would colleges do this, you ask? Isn’t that like saying you’ll go on a second date with someone even though you had a miserable first date and zero intention of ever sitting down with the person again? Why, yes it is. But highly selective colleges do it nonetheless.

In fact, the waitlist is a whole lot like dating. It’s like saying to someone that you like them and you’d love to hang out — as friends. You don’t want to totally invalidate the person by saying they essentially would add no value to your life (even if this is indeed the case). So you don’t pull the bandaid off all at once. You pull it off bit by bit until they get the point that you’re pulling the bandaid off. So why do colleges stoop do these practices? Why don’t they just pull the bandaid off and tell kids that they don’t have a shot of ever getting in by just denying them outright? Because colleges value relationships. They value their bottom line.

The unqualified children of alumni often get waitlisted. The unqualified children of donors to a university often get waitlisted (why upset a donor by rejecting their kid when you can just waitlist them?). High profile applicants. Students from high schools at which nobody earned admission to a college (so as not to upset the high school and damage that relationship). The list goes on. What do you think about this? Would you rather just have the bandaid pulled off all at once? Let us know your thoughts by posting below.

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