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You just got a response from your dream college, and it says you are on the wait list. Disappointed?! You feel that you have lost the chance. In one sense you are correct. A wait list is a 'polite no' and the chances of you getting admitted off the waitlist are often slim. What does the waitlist decision tell you? It says you are competitive but not a standout. According to Eric J. Furda, dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania:
"This waitlist decision is one saying that you're competitive in our pool, and if spots open up after the May 1 candidates' reply date, we're going to go back and take a look at your application and the other students' applications on the waitlist."
So what do you do? Do you leave the decision to chance, or can you do something and perhaps standout? Yes, you can standout and here are 5 steps you can take.
1. Accept a spot
Wait-listed applicants can typically either accept or reject a waitlist offer. If this is truly your top college of choice, accept a spot on the waitlist. Accepting a spot also signals the admission office that you are serious about their school.
2. Re-express your interest
We recommend that you should contact the admissions department to demonstrate continued interest, even if the school doesn't require any sort of additional follow-up. Talk about your enthusiasm for the school, why you want to go and what you can offer them. Plus, provide any major updates to admissions officers. For example, did you win a prestigious award, or did you complete a college level MOOC course? Our team at Hillview Prep will be happy to assist you in writing a letter to your dream school and suggest MOOC classes that will make you stand out.
3. Submit a deposit to another college
We recommend to submit a deposit to other universities on your list—before May 1st. It is very important that you have a spot at a university, even if it is not your top choice. We recommend not to set your heart just on one school. Pick 10-15 schools and find the ones you really like.
If you are waitlisted, re-evaluate whether the school is really the college of your dreams. Find out more information about the program. Check out other schools. If your school is one that Hillview Prep Thought Leaders know about, schedule a phone/Skype call with them. They will be happy to assist you in evaluating your choices and perhaps provide more information.
Don't do shallow research. If you know your major, go talk to the department professors, staff and students. Compare the quality of the program at different schools and which ones are the better fit for you.
5. Go to a community college!
Yes, you can get two more years to learn and get into a public school, like the University of California. We had one student who really wanted to go to UC Berkeley. However, her GPA and test scores were not enough to get into Berkeley. So she went to a community college and got more knowledge and skill and finally got into UC Berkeley. Another Hillview Prep student was able to go to UC Santa Barbara and yet another to UCLA. These are smart kids, but often were not focused in high school. Going to a community college gave them another chance to get into the college of their choice.