After all of these months of waiting, it can be frustrating when students find out that they’ve been neither accepted nor denied admission. We feel for waitlisted applicants, students placed in limbo until the colleges to which they’ve applied are ready to render a verdict. But while the jury is still out, it’s not like the members of said jury are sequestered. You can still get them more information. And that information you get them can prove pivotal to turning that spot on the waitlist into an offer of admission.
Many years ago, we at Ivy Coach coined the term Letter of Enthusiasm. We had no idea it would become such a well known term in highly selective college admissions back then. But we did know that Letters of Enthusiasm worked. We did know that most waitlisted applicants choose to do nothing once placed on a waitlist. And we did know that the vast majority of the students who choose not to do nothing but instead do something do, well, the wrong thing. The first inclination of the student who wishes to do something is to inundate colleges with all of the things they’ve achieved in the couple of months since they applied. But what has a student truly achieved that is earth shattering in the couple of months since applications were submitted? Are there exceptions?Certainly. Being named a finalist in a major science competition (e.g., Regeneron) — that’s absolutely worthy of an update to colleges (preferably from the school counselor!). But in most cases, achievements are not the way to go.
Think about it. Your task as a waitlisted applicant for admission is to sway human beings to root for you, to go to bat for you, to move you to the top of the waitlist pile. Boasting about your achievements is a surefire way not to move to the top of that pile and yet it remains the most common approach for the student who chooses to do something rather than do nothing. Students who first come to us after being waitlisted quickly learn the correct approach to trying to get off that dreaded waitlist. And they quickly learn what constitutes a powerful and compelling Letter of Enthusiasm — because that’s precisely the kind of letter we’ll help them submit. And it’s often quite the opposite of what they thought they should include in such a letter.