The Year to Be Waitlisted

We believe many elite colleges waitlisted as many students as they admitted this year.

Yes, this was the year to apply to college. For so many years, we found ourselves rolling our eyes as we read and reported on the press releases about the incoming classes published by each highly selective college, press releases that included phrases like: “the most competitive class ever,” “the lowest admit rate in the university’s history,” “a record haul of applications.” But not this year. This year, at the vast majority of our nation’s highly selective colleges, application totals were down, admit rates were up, and — with all the uncertainty surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic this spring — yields are a big question mark. So, yes, this was the year to apply to college. And if you happened to be waitlisted at one or more of the schools to which you applied, it’s the year to be waitlisted, too!

We Anticipate Colleges Will Go Deep Into Their Waitlists This Year

In fact, some of our students who first came to us after being waitlisted have already earned admission off waitlists at highly selective colleges this year. And, yes, it’s not even yet May 1st. You see, our nation’s elite colleges are typically quite good at predicting their yield, relying chiefly on their own historical data. But all that is out the window this year. There is a real chance many international applicants won’t be able to come to the United States in the fall to matriculate. There is also a real chance that many students who choose to accept their offers will take gap years, opting to not start college when there is a distinct possibility the fall term could be virtual just like this spring term. So who is going to fill those slots? Waitlisted students. Waitlisted students are the contingency plan. In fact, they’re the whole contingency plan. It’s why we believe many elite universities waitlisted as many students as they admitted this year. It’s also why we believe many elite universities will reach deep into their waitlists this year.

It’s Still Not Too Late to Improve Your Case for Admission Off Waitlists, But You’re Getting There

If you’re a waitlisted applicant who has done nothing since you’ve been waitlisted, you are wasting your opportunity to earn admission in a year in which tons of waitlisted applicants are going to be getting in. While it’s getting late, you still have an opportunity to make your case by submitting a powerful Letter of Enthusiasm, which we at Ivy Coach can help you craft. If you’re a waitlisted applicant who already submitted a letter in which you updated colleges on all you’ve achieved since you first applied, you too have squandered your opportunity as that’s certainly not the right approach to the waitlist. But you we can’t help since you’ve already submitted your letter. It’s not about submitting a letter. It’s about submitting a compelling letter. It’s about daring admissions officers not to offer you admission. It’s about getting them to root for you, to get them to like you. And, no, bragging about your achievements is an unlikely strategy to inspire admissions officers to go to bat for you.

If you want help crafting a powerful Letter of Enthusiasm, fill out Ivy Coach’s free consultation form, indicate waitlist at the bottom, and we’ll be in touch in short order. We are aware that time is of the essence.


You are permitted to use (including the content of the Blog) for your personal, non-commercial use only. You must not copy, download, print, or otherwise distribute the content on our site without the prior written consent of Ivy Coach, Inc.


Tags: , , , ,


  • Warner says:

    How far down the waitlist do you think Stanford will go this year? They have ranged from 0 to over 150 in the past ~decade. Given the large number of students from Asia, some of whom may be unable to come to the US for the near future….

    • Ivy Coach says:

      That’s impossible for anyone to predict. But we do anticipate most highly selective colleges, including Stanford, will go deep down their waitlists this year.

  • Adam says:

    Could schools accepting more students than usual (like Yale, which accepted about 100 more students than last year) allow them to avoid going to the waitlist?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *