Help! My Waitlist College Doesn’t Want to Hear from me.

Question: I was recently placed on the wait list at all my top choices (Northwestern, Columbia, and Washington University in St. Louis). If a wait list letter requests that I do not submit any additional information, would it be in my best interest to follow instructions rather than sending a letter expressing my great and continued interest in this university?

If college admission folks say that they don’t want supplementary information, what they’re also saying is, “We’re flat out right now and don’t have time to process any more mail, including your heartfelt pleas for admission and your pledge of allegiance to our esteemed institution.”

BUT … you can still get your message across by asking your school guidance counselor to telephone the college in question on your behalf. Any time a student in my orbit lands on a wait list, I suggest that a call from the high school can be a plus. So, especially in this case, when you’ve been given a gag order yourself, it will be useful to ask your counselor to not only sing your praises in a phone call (or, at the very least, via e-mail) but also to say something like, “This guy will definitely enroll if admitted.” (And, if that’s not true, then go with “He is extremely interested in your university.”)

When colleges decide which students to admit from the wait list, it’s always a bonus for them to pick those who are sure to matriculate. Admission officials don’t like to waste time offering a place to candidates who will ultimately say, “Thanks but no thanks.” Thus, if one of the colleges that has waitlisted you is definitely your front-runner, you should be sure they know. If it’s the one that sent the “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” missive, then let your counselor do your talking for you.

Good luck to you as you wait. And don’t forget to send a deposit elsewhere by May 1st.