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What to do when put on a waitlist


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When you apply to a college you usually foresee only two reply options: Accepted or Rejected. However, there is a third scenario -  opening the envelope to find you've been placed on a waitlist for admission to your dream school. Unfortunately, this happens to thousands of students each year. If you find yourself in this situation, consider the following advice so you take the best course of action:

Tell the school you're interested
The first thing you must do after being placed on a waitlist is decide if you are interested in accepting the placement. Some students find that other colleges have made more attractive offers, while others are simply hesitant to drag out the admissions process. What you decide will depend on the acceptances you've received and how you feel about the college itself. Whatever your decision, make sure you send in your response in a timely manner.

Show your worth
Once you're on the waitlist, you should fully devote yourself to your schoolwork and send in your up-to-date grades. Submitting  these scores is the norm at most colleges, but a few students choose to go above and beyond by including additional materials. Something as simple as an extra letter explaining why you want to be accepted and what you would contribute to the school can make a major difference.

Colleges will have different requirements and requests of the students they place on waitlists. Some may accept follow-up grades or extra letters of recommendation, while others may not consider these additional materials. It is important to stick to the guidelines put forth by the college, only showing off your flair and gusto when appropriate.

Keep your options open
Although you may still be hoping for an acceptance letter to your dream school, that should not stop you from keeping your options open at other colleges. You'll need to line up other plans and send in a deposit to your next-choice school before the deadline, and you should also make sure to follow up on college financial aid offers.

If you do decide to hold out for acceptance off the waitlist, be aware that your chances of receiving financial aid are greatly reduced. Therefore, you will need to aggressively pursue outside sources of college aid. You might also consider pursuing a "gap year" activity such as study abroad, volunteering or working full-time. Any of these activities would allow you to enroll the following year with a good deal of real-world experience under your belt.

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