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Articles / Applying to College / W&L Waitlist Chances?

W&L Waitlist Chances?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | May 15, 2013

Question: What would you think is the chance of getting off the waitlist and into Washington and Lee University for a girl as of today?

Waitlist admission can vary dramatically from year to year. A college that takes 100 students off of a waitlist one spring may take none in the following. Colleges use the waitlist to balance the entering class. So sometimes more males enroll than expected and other times it’s more females. So, of course, the odds go up for a girl being accepted from the waitlist in those years when the entering class seems top-heavy with boys.

If you want to know if W&L is currently using the waitlist and, if so, how many more spaces are left to fill, don’t hesitate to call the college (or, better yet, have your daughter do it). You may get something of a “party line” answer (i.e., vague and not entirely satisfying, such as “We expect to have a better idea of our needs in the next two weeks”) but if the college is not using the waitlist at all or if there’s very little waitlist activity remaining, you’ll probably be told this. Whether or not your daughter gives her name when she calls, it won’t help—or hurt—her admission chances. But it should give her a little peace of mind to make this call, if she can get a bit of information on where she stands.

Meanwhile, I assume that she has already written a letter to her regional rep (the W&L staff member who oversees applicants from her high school). If not, she should do that pronto. The letter should express her ongoing interest in the school along with a list of any good news in her life since she sent her application (e.g., improved grades, recent awards, budding interests). If there are any very specific reasons why W&L is a good fit for her (reasons that she hasn’t already shared with the admission committee) then her letter should include these, too.

Most colleges close out their waitlist by the end of June, meaning that they notify those still waiting not to hold out hope. However, many colleges will keep a few waitlisted students hanging on, just in case the “summer melt” (enrolled students who change their minds in July or August) is greater than usual. So if your daughter is very keen on W&L and wants to stick around until the bitter end, she should say that in her letter, too. And this “letter” should be email … time is of the essence!



Wait Lists

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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