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Articles / Applying to College / Why Would A College Say It Has Openings While I'm Stuck on the Waitlist?

May 6, 2020

Why Would A College Say It Has Openings While I'm Stuck on the Waitlist?

Why Would A College Say It Has Openings While I'm Stuck on the Waitlist?

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I am a high school senior who has always wanted to go to Rutgers, but they wait-listed me so I committed to Penn State. Today my mom sent me the NACAC list of schools with college openings and Rutgers New Brunswick is on the list. If they are saying they have openings, how can they still keep me on the waitlist? Should I contact them? Should I reapply? Is this list even genuine?


Yep, "The Dean" saw the listing, too, and it does appear that Rutgers has freshman vacancies on three campuses, including the main campus in New Brunswick. There is even financial aid and housing available. This annual NACAC roundup of colleges with openings is totally legit and a good way for students who don't yet have college choices (or the choices they want) to consider new options.

It may seem a bit odd that you're moldering on a waitlist and eager to enroll while the university is beating the bushes for additional applicants, although it's possible that certain academic fields are already full, including the one that you selected. So to confirm this conjecture, I contacted the Rutgers admission office via their handy Live Chat to ask the same question that you did, and I got a speedy reply from Admissions Officer Zachory Huxford. He told me:

"There are a lot of factors that go into coming off of a waitlist, and available seats in a given school is one of them. The waitlist is reviewed on a rolling basis as seats become open in those schools."

You should email your admission officer at Rutgers, explain that you saw on the NACAC list showing that Rutgers still has freshman vacancies, and proclaim your intention to enroll immediately if accepted off the waitlist. But, because admission officials are all swamped these days, I suggest that you copy your message to questions@admissions.rutgers.edu as well so that it gets the fastest-possible review.

In addition, if you have an alternate choice of "school" within Rutgers besides the one you applied to, you can mention it in your message and formally add it to your application. (Be sure to include an explanation of why this second-fiddle school is of interest to you so that it doesn't look like you will try to transfer out of it as soon as your duffel bags are unpacked in your dorm room!)

Finally, regardless of what happens with Rutgers, congratulate yourself on already having a very enviable spot at Penn State. This crazy admission process so often ends in a "Meant to Be" way, even if it doesn't seem like it at first.

About the Ask the Dean Column

Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean, please email us at editorial@collegeconfidential.com.

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Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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