The Waitlisted Student

Waitlisted Students, College Waitlists, College Waiting List

We hope you enjoy our waitlist anecdotes.

For all those students stuck in waitlist limbo, you know what we recommend you do. Submit a powerful and compelling Letter of Enthusiasm, a term we at Ivy Coach coined many years ago. We help students every year earn admission off waitlists after submitting powerful Letters of Enthusiasm. But enough about Letters of Enthusiasm. We have nothing more to write on the topic that we haven’t already said. And so we’ll share two anecdotes that we hope might offer insight into the college waitlist process.

We’ll call this anecdote: “Henry was named a National Merit Finalist.” Congratulations, Henry! That means you did really well on your PSAT. But now Henry’s mom really wants to update the colleges that placed him in waitlist limbo on his achievement. In fact, she wants him to form a Letter of Enthusiasm that includes a mention of this accomplishment. Oy vey is right. Can you imagine this scenario ever playing out in an admissions office? Picture an admissions officer running around an admissions office saying this: “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness. Henry just got named a National Merit Finalist. We must now take him off the waitlist. He did so well on his PSAT! Now that’s cause for admission. This was the missing piece to the puzzle. Our university needs Henry! We need another National Merit Finalist.” No, that won’t ever happen. Ever. More likely? An admissions officer sits at her desk and thinks, “And this kid thought he’d impress me with his National Merit recognition? I’ll show him.” Get the idea?

We’ll call this next anecdote: “Sally got into Princeton, Stanford, Yale, and Dartmouth.” Congratulations Sally! But now Sally’s mom wants to update Harvard that her daughter got into multiple other Ivy League colleges along with Stanford. Surely they should admit her because she got into these schools. Surely they’ll feel the pressure. Surely they’ll feel they made a terrible mistake. Surely this will be great leverage to get off that Harvard waitlist. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Can you ever imagine an admissions officer saying, “Well Sally got into all of these Ivy League colleges. And Stanford. She bragged to us as much. So of course we need to admit her. It was our error.” No. That will never happen. Never ever ever tell colleges about the other schools that offered you admission. To that school, they should be the only school you have eyes for — like the song goes. Your attempt at leveraging your other offers of admission is totally ill-conceived and is highly likely to result in never ever getting off that waitlist.

We hope you enjoyed our anecdotes because it is waitlist season but if we had to write about the importance of submitting incredible Letters of Enthusiasm one more time, we think we’d faint. Have a question or comment about college waitlists? Post it below.


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