The Ivy Coach Daily
March 28, 2023
What Are Your Chances of Getting In to College After Being Waitlisted?
Many students believe that being waitlisted is akin to being rejected. But they’re wrong — because if students approach the waitlist process correctly, they have a genuine shot of earning admission. To concede defeat after being waitlisted is tantamount to taking a knee at the one-yard line. Who does that?
Why Do Colleges Waitlist Students?
America’s elite colleges waitlist students to play it safe. After all, while a school’s yield in prior years is a solid predictor of the school’s yield for this year, admissions officers can never predict with certainty the percentage of admitted students who will choose to attend. They thus place a group of students in limbo to meet their institutional needs by filling the remaining seats if the school’s yield falls short of expectations.
Your Chances of Admission After Being Waitlisted
As a rule of thumb, around 10% of students who are waitlisted at an elite universities will ultimately earn admission. This, of course, can vary from year to year.
There are years when some colleges, like Dartmouth College for the Class of 2025, don’t turn to their waitlists because they don’t need to fill seats. And there are other years when colleges go deep down their waitlists to complete their incoming classes — as schools did for the Class of 2024 after so many students chose to take gap years due to the pandemic. The schools needed to fill the vacant seats of the students who deferred their admission.
College Waitlist Statistics
Among the top 25-ranked national universities and top 25-ranked liberal arts colleges in the 2023 US News & World Report rankings, the following are the overall waitlist figures and the waitlist acceptance rates for Ivy Coach’s students.
The overall waitlist figures stem from the data these schools have individually reported to the 2021-2022 Common Data Set.
If a school is not listed, like Harvard University, it did not publish its waitlist data in The Common Data Set. If only some numbers are reported, those are the only figures the school chose to include. Some institutions, like West Point, Annapolis, and the U.S. Air Force Academy, do not have waitlists.
|College/University||2023 US News & World Report Best National Universities Ranking||Class of 2025 Waitlist Acceptance Rate||Class of 2025 Ivy Coach Waitlist Acceptance Rate||Number of Students Waitlisted to the Class of 2025||Number of Students Who Accepted a Place on Waitlist to Class of 2025||Number of Students Admitted Off Waitlist to Class of 2025|
|University of Pennsylvania||#7||4.4%||75%||3,933||2,753||121|
|California Institute of Technology||#9||4.3%||N/A||312||235||10|
|Washington University in St. Louis||#15||33.9%||33.3%||2,696||915|
|University of California, Los Angeles||#20||3.3%||100%||16,979||11,169||367|
|Carnegie Mellon University||#22||0.7%||33.3%||8,792||5,319||35|
|University of Michigan – Ann Arbor||#25||0.5%||0%||17,805||13,063||68|
Top Liberal Arts Colleges
|College/University||US News Best Liberal Arts Colleges 2023 Rank||Class of 2025 Waitlist Acceptance Rate||Class of 2025 Ivy Coach Waitlist Acceptance Rate||Number of Students Waitlisted to the Class of 2025||Number of Students Who Accepted a Place on Waitlist to Class of 2025||Number of Students Admitted Off Waitlist to Class of 2025|
|Swarthmore College||#4||0%||Did Not Go to Waitlist||0|
|Claremont McKenna College||#9|
|Washington and Lee University||#11||1%||N/A||2,207||1,150||11|
|University of Richmond||#18||N/A||3,891||886||9|
A Prediction for Class of 2027 Waitlists
At Ivy Coach, we’ve got a highly accurate crystal ball. And our crystal ball hereby forecasts shorter waitlists for the Class of 2027. Unlike over the last couple of years under the halo of the pandemic, there’s less uncertainty this year.
Colleges will not need to place so many students in limbo when there’s less uncertainty. As such, a place on an expectedly shorter waitlist is more meaningful than in years past.
Ivy Coach’s Game Plan for Waitlisted Students
So what’s Ivy Coach’s game plan for waitlisted students? It’s a two-step process that goes as follows:
- PostMortem application review. We need to identify how a student presented their case for admission to the school or schools that placed them in limbo so their story remains consistent — albeit more powerful.
- Letter of Continued Interest. We brainstorm and revise a compelling letter to the institution, one filled with no brags or updates.
College Waitlist FAQ
Should I call the admissions office to express my continued interest in attending?
No, admissions officers don’t wish to speak with you over the phone. Submit a compelling Letter of Continued Interest and then ask your school counselor to make an advocacy call, armed with how you positioned yourself in your letter.
Any other contact with the admissions office will risk rendering you a gadfly. Don’t annoy them! It will only undercut your case for admission off the waitlist.
If I’ve been waitlisted to several schools, should I submit the same letter to all of them?
No, each letter must be tailored to the respective institution. If you submit a generic letter to each school that waitlisted you, you’re unlikely to earn admission off any of these waitlists.
In our experience, students who are waitlisted at multiple schools have an excellent shot of earning admission off one or more waitlists — but only if they play their cards right.
Should I do something off the wall after being waitlisted, like pitching a tent outside the admissions office?
No, these sorts of ideas backfire. No bus ads. No tents. No phone calls from politicians. Just submit a compelling Letter of Continued Interest.
Do colleges ever admit students off their waitlists after they say their incoming classes are closed?
Yes, we’ve had students earn admission off waitlists months after they’ve already notified students their incoming classes are closed. One of our students once moved out of their Duke dorm room when they learned they got off the Harvard waitlist. It’s why we always encourage waitlisted students to answer their phones!
Getting Started with Ivy Coach for Waitlist Assistance
If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s assistance with optimizing your case for admission after being placed in waitlist limbo, fill out our free consultation form and indicate that you’ve been waitlisted. We’ll then be in touch to outline Ivy Coach’s services.
You are permitted to use www.ivycoach.com (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.