What Does ‘Waitlisted’ Mean in College Admissions?
Did you recently receive a waitlist decision? If so, you were neither accepted nor denied. Instead, you’re in the middle ground. You’re in limbo! So what does it all mean, and what can you do to optimize your chances of admission off the waitlist?
What Is a College Waitlist?
A college waitlist is a group of students who could earn admission if a lower-than-anticipated percentage of admitted students choose to enroll. In short, if a college’s yield falls below expectations, it will want to fill any vacant seat to meet its institutional needs.
Most highly selective universities do not rank their waitlisted candidates. Thus if college admissions officers notice fewer than expected engineering students enrolled, they might admit an engineering student off the waitlist. Likewise, if college admissions officers discern fewer than expected psychology students enrolled, they might admit a psychology student off the waitlist.
And while there are some years when colleges reach deep down their waitlists (like for the Class of 2024 after so many students opted for gap years due to the pandemic), there are other years when some colleges accept no students from their waitlists.
Do Waitlisted Students Get In?
While some believe that a waitlist is akin to a rejection, it’s not the case. In fact, if students play their cards right after being offered a spot on the waitlist, they have a genuine shot of earning admission.
College Waitlist Acceptance Rates
Below are the waitlist acceptance rates for the Class of 2025 for America’s top national universities of 2023. If a college is not listed, like Harvard University, it didn’t report waitlist data to The Common Data Set.
|College/University||2023 US News & World Report Best National Universities Ranking||Class of 2025 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%||3,933||2,753||121|
|California Institute of Technology||#9||4.3%||312||235||10|
|Washington University in St. Louis||#15||33.9%||2,696||915|
|University of California, Los Angeles||#20||3.3%||16,979||11,169||367|
|Carnegie Mellon University||#22||0.7%||8,792||5,319||35|
|University of Michigan – Ann Arbor||#25||0.5%||17,805||13,063||68|
Below are the waitlist acceptance rates for the Class of 2025 for America’s top liberal arts colleges of 2023. If a college is not listed, like Amherst College, it didn’t report waitlist data to The Common Data Set.
|College/University||US News Best Liberal Arts Colleges 2023 Rank||Class of 2025 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|
|Claremont McKenna College||#9||850||538||11|
|Washington and Lee University||#11||2,207||1,150||11|
|University of Richmond||#18||3,891||886||9|
What To Do After Being Waitlisted
If you’ve been waitlisted, contact Ivy Coach so we can give you the game plan to offer you the best shot possible at admission. Waitlisted students need to do more than check the box that they wish to join the waitlist. They must effectively demonstrate interest, to show rather than tell the school they want to attend.
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