What To Do If You’re Waitlisted

Waitlisted Students, What To Do If Waitlisted, College Waiting Lists

We’ve got a secret sauce at Ivy Coach when it comes to Letters of Enthusiasm for waitlisted applicants (photo credit: Andrew Bossi).

Wondering what to do if you’re waitlisted? Every year around this time, students and parents — coming to Ivy Coach for the first time — ask us what they should do once they’ve been waitlisted. Our first question to these students and parents is always: what have you done so far? We’re always hoping they’ve done nothing. But that’s rarely the answer. Usually they’ve done something, often quite a bit of something. And in almost every instance, that something is the wrong something.

“Well, we sent in a letter that speaks to all of the things Alex has achieved since he applied in January. He talked about how he’s now first chair violinist and he’s done countless hours of community service at the local hospital. Oh and we asked Senator Cruz, one of our U.S. senators, to send in an additional letter of recommendation. An aide of his said that he would.” Oh boy. We’ll likely tell that parent that they’ve done all they can, that it’s in the hands of the universe now, which is our not so subtle way of saying we can’t help because they’ve already significantly hurt their son’s case for admission off the waitlist.

For students who first come to us after being waitlisted, we help them craft powerful and compelling Letters of Enthusiasm. Do they always work? No! Some colleges may not even turn to their waitlists — it depends on the year and their yield. Do our Letters of Enthusiasm give you the best chance possible of earning admission? You bet they do.

Most students who are waitlisted do nothing. Doing nothing is an unlikely strategy to land a spot off the waitlist and into the incoming class. But doing the wrong thing is also an unlikely strategy to get out of waitlist limbo. Sending in communications that boast of one’s accomplishments — how is that going to get the human being on the other end of that communication to root for you, to want to go to bat for you, to put you at the top of the pile? What have you really achieved in the few months since you first applied? If you’ve been named a finalist in a major science competition, like Regeneron, now that’s something. Starting a club at your school, volunteering for 42 hours at a hospital (great for humanity but not for college admissions!), winning a pie eating contest (not great for your tummy or for college admissions!) — sending in updates like this is about as noteworthy as updating admissions that you brushed your teeth this morning. Did you manage to floss too?

If you’ve been placed in waitlist limbo, you want to send in one powerful and compelling Letter of Enthusiasm, a term we at Ivy Coach coined many years ago, to the college(s) that placed you in limbo. This letter should demonstrate — by showing rather than telling — what you hope to contribute to the university and why the university would be better off for having you on their campus. The letter should be filled with exactly the right kind of specifics about the school, specifics that simply don’t apply to any other university in America but this one. It should show you’ve done your homework on this school, that this school really is your absolute first choice.

If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s help with a Letter of Enthusiasm, fill out our free consult form and indicate “Letter of Enthusiasm” at the bottom. We help students every year earn admission off college waitlists and it has a whole lot to do with the secret sauce of our Letters of Enthusiasm, with our unique approach.


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