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The Waitlist: Colleges’ Safety Valve, Students’ Purgatory

March 7th, 2016

Admission decisions from selective colleges will soon be arriving fast and furious, and some students will have a “wait list” decision to consider. Although natural to wonder what one’s chances are, it’s impossible to know. When I sat on admission committees at Tufts University, then Brandeis University and later, Washington University in St. Louis, our wait lists gave us latitude to first see how the enrolling class would materialize from the first round of offers, and then fill in gaps. Too few men, or women? Too few engineers, or Classics majors? Too little diversity, whether geographic, ethnic or racial? Our goal was a well-rounded class with a fairly precise number of students, and the wait list helped us achieve that in some years. In other years, our initial offers produced the enrolling class sought, and we were unable to offer any students admission from the wait list.

Will Dix’s article on the Forbes website shines a bright light on the wait list process; we recommend that students and parents read it if contemplating what to do about a wait list offer. Dix’s article concludes with excellent recommendations about steps to take if you’d like to remain under serious consideration.

Be certain to follow his steps carefully if you’re serious about a college that’s wait-listed you, including that of submitting an enrollment deposit to a college that’s offered admission outright. Why? If you’re not offered admission to your top choice from the wait list, you’ll want to be certain that your place is reserved for fall entry at your next choice.

Good luck to all in weeks to come – we are here for our students and their parents, ready to listen and guide.

Article published February 22, 2016

Written by:  Willard Dix

At this moment in the middle of winter, admission officers at four-year colleges and universities everywhere are deep into reading season. They’re combing through hundreds or thousands of applications to find students with the talents and abilities to power their campuses and keep professors happy. Some applicants will be immediate standouts; others won’t have the grades or scores or that “certain something” to be admissible. Many others will fall into a purgatory called The Waitlist , where they hover like the ghosts in “The Others” until June or July.

The waitlist exists because even the most selective colleges worry about “making their numbers.” The incoming class has to be a certain size, filled with the best possible mix of students. If a small college has a target of 500 freshmen, there had better be 500 students showing up in the fall. And it needs to be 500, not 530 or 470. Too few and the budget takes a hit; too many and students end up living in Quonset huts or hallways (or even being paid to wait a year before matriculating). The applicants’ purgatory is the colleges’ safety valve.

Read more at Forbes >>

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