Waitlisted Applicants Must Convince Each College It’s Their First Choice

The waitlist process is a game, one that can be won (photo credit: Madcoverboy).

When college applicants are waitlisted to multiple elite universities, they often debate whether or not they should articulate to each school that has placed them in limbo that the school is their first choice. Let’s end that debate here and now once and for all (or at least until next year’s waitlist season). When a student is waitlisted at multiple elite universities, their task is to convince each school that this school is where they most wish to attend. But they don’t convince them by throwaway lines in letters that read, “This is the school I most wish to attend and, if admitted, I promise to matriculate.” Admissions officers weren’t born yesterday. They know waitlisted applicants can cut and paste that sentence for any school that has placed them in limbo. Rather, waitlisted students convince the school that the institution really is loved by the student above all others by demonstrating how they intend to contribute to their campus. The letter must be chock full of specifics that apply to this school and only this school. And, no, name dropping professors or citing a course one can cut and paste from a course catalogue do not count as genuine specifics.

Waitlisted Applicants Should Not Feel Guilty Convincing Each School It’s Their First Choice

Some students feel guilty writing love letters to each school and expressing how much they wish to attend. And why? Because, in reality, not all of these schools are the student’s first choice. But these students should not feel guilty in the least and, no, these schools do not share such information with one another as that would be in plain violation of restraint of trade laws. Elite colleges are a business. They encourage unqualified applicants to apply only to boost their application numbers, lower their admission rates, and improve their US News & World Report rankings. They tell you they’re need-blind when in truth they’re need-aware. They offer advantage to the children and grandchildren of alumni in the interest of their endowments. So don’t you feel guilty one bit for approaching the waitlist process to elite universities as any good businessperson would — by keeping your options open. Every school to which a student has been waitlisted that is better than the school or school(s) to which they’ve thus far earned admission should be a student’s first choice. After all, in the end, a school at which the student is waitlisted that is not currently the student’s first choice might end up being their best choice.

Keep Your Cards Close to the Vest in the Waitlist Process

So when we came across a piece today up on Business Insider by Janet Lorin entitled “Ivy League Schools Are About to Deliver Extra Dose of Heartache” in which a student announces in the press the school she most hopes to earn admission to off the waitlist, we found ourselves scratching our heads. As Lorin writes, “Nori Leybengrub, passed over for early acceptance to her top choice, the University of Pennsylvania, is weighing offers from several other schools, including Temple University, the University of Maryland, Lehigh University and George Washington University. Leybengrub, 17, a figure skater who tutors middle- and elementary-school students in Baltimore, is hoping to wind up at Northwestern University, where she’s currently wait-listed.” This student, however well-intentioned, is playing her cards wrong in the waitlist process. And why? Well, she just told Northwestern admissions officers — who too can read news articles in which they are cited — that the UPenn was her first choice. Northwestern was, as it turns out, a backup since she applied Early Decision to UPenn and didn’t get in. Northwestern didn’t know this information until the student shared it with the press. And hopefully Northwestern is the only school at which she’s waitlisted to which she hopes to earn admission because, if not, she just told all those other schools they’re second, third, or fourth fiddle.

If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s assistance navigating the waitlist process to elite universities, fill out our free consultation form and we’ll be in touch in short order. And, in the meantime, don’t talk to reporters about your college process. That, of course, would not be in your best interest!

 
 

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