College Counseling & Planning      Orleans, MA. (774) 801-2449      Ashland, OR. (541) 488-0919
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--Phil Michael, parent of Greer, University of San Francisco, 2012; Wynn, Stanford University, 2014

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In addition to acceptance and denial letters, colleges throw in a curve ball by sending 'waitlisted' letters. Many a student has been surprised that the 'thin" envelop was not a notice of denial, but rather an offer to be placed on the college's waitlist.

So, what does that mean?

Colleges have waitlists because they are never sure how many students will actually accept their offer to enroll in their college. A waitlist allows them to accept more students when the enrollment numbers are lower than they expected. However, the colleges are under no obligation to accept anyone from the list and they do not have to tell you why you were or were not accepted.

What do you do about it?

First, congratulate yourself that if the college had been able to accept more students you would have been accepted.

Second, deal with reality and decide which college you will accept from among those who have accepted you. This means sending in a deposit that you will most likely forfeit if you decide to go elsewhere.

Third, if you are wait-listed at a college you truly want to attend then prepare to do some additional work. Then you must be willing to wait - maybe into the summer.

Before deciding whether you want to accept the waitlist offer, it is important to know the policy of the college. For example, are housing choices and financial aid packages altered if you are accepted off the waitlist.

Ask your school counselor to call the college and find out how long the wait list is and how names will be selected. Based on this information decide whether you want to remain on the list. They will probably not tell you where you are on the list.

You (not your parent) should call the admission officer (ask to speak to the Oregon rep.) reaffirming that you want to remain on the list and that you would attend if accepted. Follow up the call with a letter that impresses the admissions committee enough to take a second look at you. This letter should emphasize why you want desperately to go this college and why they should accept you.

In addition to the above, the letter should update information on your grades (excellent spring semester grades are a great asset), awards, job experiences or extracurricular activities that would enhance your application. Be sure you document your information. A letter from a teacher, guidance counselor, or alumnus could help - not your parents. This is not a time to be shy.

If you have not interviewed or visited the college, try to do so and schedule an interview

to present some interesting things you have been doing, to reinforce your enthusiasm to

attend, and to positively underscore your strengths.

Be forewarned: chances of being taken off the waitlist are slim and it all depends on how many students accept the college's offer. Do not let the waitlist get you down, but rather concentrate on looking forward to attending the college to which you have sent your deposit. I know this all sounds like a lot of work, stress and money, but if this is your dream school it may well be worth it.

Judith Christie

College Planning Consultants