The Longest Wait List Ever? What to Expect

The Longest Wait List Ever? What to Expect
Izzy Hall

When students hear back from colleges in the coming weeks, they may not get a firm acceptance or rejection, but rather get put on the wait list. Getting waitlisted is a normal part of the college admissions process, but some experts say that this year the wait list could turn into the longest it has ever been. A combination of the effects of the coronavirus on colleges, changes in application policies and an increase in applications at top colleges may contribute to a difficult wait list period.

In a normal year, a college would use certain metrics that predict how many students of the they extend acceptances to will actually enroll – otherwise known as a school’s “yield.” This year, many of those metrics – like in-person college visits or standardized test scores – are not on the table, making it harder for schools to judge if a student will enroll once accepted. That, coupled with record-breaking applications to many big-name schools who are already known for long wait lists, leads some admissions experts to fear a particularly long wait list period – perhaps even lasting until classes start in the Fall 2021 semester.

What does that mean for students who applied this year? Being waitlisted by a college or university isn’t the end of the world. However, you should keep in mind that your time on the wait list may be longer than it has been in the past. At minimum, a student on the wait list will remain there until a college’s decision day (typically May 1st) when schools get a sense of the size of their class yield. After that, a school may start reaching out to students on the wait list. It’s important to note that students are not ranked in any way on a wait list – so who gets chosen from the wait list isn’t based on a hard-and-fast number or placement. It’s also important to consider your options at schools you were accepted to, and to place a deposit down at one to secure your option to attend that college. Finally, campaigning to the admissions department to get pulled off the wait list is not recommended. If your dream school waitlists you, a single email to an admissions counselor is enough to demonstrate your interest.

Got waitlisted? You can still apply for scholarships, up until you begin your first semester of college! Try a free scholarship search today and discover opportunities that you can apply for and win before you begin your college career.

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