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Articles / Applying to College / Tips for Student Waitlisted at First-Choice College

March 25, 2013

Tips for Student Waitlisted at First-Choice College

Question: My daughter is waitlisted at the school of her choice and really wants to go there and nowhere else. How can she demonstrate that she really wants to go to that school and what actions would you look for in a waitlisted student who really wants it?“The Dean" has answered this question–in one form or another–countless times. Unfortunately, this is due to the fact that SO many high school seniors get stuck in waitlist purgatory every year, enduring that confusing so-near-and-yet-so-far feeling that your daughter is facing right now.

Here's an example of one of those earlier answers that should be helpful to her, too:


As your daughter launches her waitlist campaign, try to help her to get excited about the places that have already said yes. But if she is single-minded about attending this one, her best bet is to put on a full-court press, as described in the column above.

One final tip: I'm sure it's tough on your daughter to not receive the news she wanted from her first-choice school. But it's probably even tougher on YOU. As a parent myself, I know how hard it can be to see a child disappointed … especially one who seems to have done everything “right" to reach a goal. But, from years of experience, I can assure you that this crazy process often does end in a “meant to be" way. So even if your daughter never does get off that waitlist, she may discover that the school she DOES attend could feel like the place she was supposed to be all along.

Good luck!

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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