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Articles / Applying to College / Help! My Waitlist College Doesn't Want to Hear from me.

April 20, 2008

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.

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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