Wait Lists: The Impact of COVID

Some predict the worst year ever, but others say that wait lists may only impact students who applied to highly competitive colleges.

Theoretically, the Ivy League and other elite colleges will let their applicants know if they were admitted during the next week or two. But for many now sitting on pins and needles, they will find instead that they have been placed in limbo, aka The Wait List.

For good reason, many students fear the wait list more than rejection, and this year, wait lists are expected to be the largest in history. Why? COVID, of course. The unprecedented test-optional policy offered by most colleges and universities led to a surge in applications at the most competitive colleges both public and private. In addition, in order to predict yield (the percentage of admitted applicants who enroll), many of the top colleges admitted huge early-decision/early-action classes. As a result, predicting yield is likely to be more difficult this year. And when colleges are concerned about yield, they tend to rely more on wait lists. With students applying to more colleges, admissions officers worry about whether students really intend to enroll. After all, even students who apply to 20 colleges can only show up at one. 

What to do if you land on the wait list? 

The chances of being admitted once you’ve been wait-listed are very small; at some schools, your chances are miniscule. So here’s what we recommend: 

1.  Think about the college that wait-listed you. Do you really want to go there? If not, move on. If you do really want to go there, write a strong letter of continued interest.

2.  Accept a spot at a college that accepted you.

3.  Focus your energy on yourself and your future. Start networking with the college that accepted you and with other students who were admitted.

4.  If, during the summer, you find that the college that wait-listed you now has a place for you, think before you act. After getting to know the college that accepted you, you may realize that that college is better for you than the college that wait-listed you.

Wait-listed and need additional help? Contact us today for more information about how our team can help you assess your options. During a wait list consultation, we will look over your application and help you strategize a plan of action, draft a wait list letter, and we’ll work with you to reconsider and assess options.

Dr. Osborn works with students from all over the world via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, phone, and Google docs to help them reach their independent, college, and graduate school goals. Through a personal, one-on-one approach, Dr. Osborn creates an individualized curriculum for each student based on the student’s strengths, passions, and college aspirations. Her holistic approach helps students perform well in school and win admission to the Ivy League and other competitive colleges.  

About The Author
Susan Osborn, Ph.D., has spent 30 years in higher education, in admissions at Vassar College, in the English department and Writing Program at Rutgers University, in the lab at The New Jersey Center for Research on Writing, and as a private tutor. Dr. Osborn is also an award-winning writer and scholar and she brings both her education smarts and her writing smarts to every student relationship.

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