Roadmap to College: What Happens If I Get Waitlisted? (page 3)
One possible outcome when hearing back from colleges is that you have been waitlisted. Being placed on a waitlist is a positive occurrence, because it is preferable to a rejection. If you are waitlisted at a college of your choice, it means you are a serious contender for a spot in the freshman class, but you were not able to be admitted because all of the initial spots have been filled. Remember, the goal of most colleges is to have a full freshman class so they don’t lose money.
However, more spots may open up once students have responded by the Universal Reply Date of May 1st. At that time, many colleges will go to their waitlist. Since colleges do not know until May 1st how many freshman seats are available, the number of students on a waitlist and the number of students taken off the waitlist vary from college to college and from year to year.
The chances of being accepted from a waitlist can be unpredictable. According to the Rice University Web site, the number of students offered admission from the waitlist in 2007 was six students. In 2006, 110 students were offered admission from the waitlist. As you can see, it is very hard to predict how many students will be accepted from the waitlist every year.
When you are placed on a waitlist, you will be asked if you want to remain on the waitlist. You can remain on more than one college’s waitlist, and you should not be asked for a deposit or a commitment until you have been officially notified of an acceptance. You will need to reply to a waitlist offer by a certain date. If you have already been accepted to your first choice school or if you are happy with the schools you have been accepted to, you can decline the waitlist offer. If, however, you are not happy with the schools you have been accepted to or the school to which you are waitlisted is one of your top choices, then you should accept the waitlist offer. If you remain on a waitlist, you should go ahead and accept one other school’s offer and send the required deposit by May 1st. If you are eventually admitted to your waitlist college and you want to attend, then you must withdraw from the school you originally accepted and go ahead and accept the waitlisted school’s offer. This is the only situation where you can double deposit, and you will most likely lose your deposit to the first school.
There really is no downside to being waitlisted, except that you are in limbo for a while and there is some uncertainty as to where you are going to college. You will start hearing from your waitlisted schools in May and June, and you should be notified no later than August 1.
Many students wonder if waitlisted students are ranked in order of their number on the waitlist, but that is not the case. The applications of waitlisted students are typically reviewed again. Whether you are accepted depends on how a college is building their freshman class and what their needs (academic, sports, etc.) are for that incoming class. You can increase your chances of being accepted from a waitlist by:
- Maintaining your senior grades
- Updating your file through a letter or e-mail, expressing your most recent accomplishments and your continued interest in the college
- Writing a new essay
- Obtaining a new letter of recommendation from a senior teacher or someone else
- Planning a return visit to the campus and expressing your interest
- Continuing a dialogue with your admissions representative through e-mail
- Considering alternate admissions terms, such as a guaranteed transfer (you will be admitted as a transfer student if you meet certain GPA requirements), an alternate semester, or an alternate campus
Do Senior Grades Count?
After reviewing your final high school transcript, we are disappointed in the decline of your senior grades. Our offer of admission was contingent upon your satisfactory completion of your senior year course load. We are concerned about your commitment to academic excellence. Therefore, we are taking the following action.…
If you are the recipient of the above letter, it means you have caught a dreaded disease, senioritis. The emphatic answer to the question about whether senior grades count is yes! If you do not take your senior classes seriously, you may be notified by your college that you have not fulfilled your end of the bargain. An offer of acceptance is always a conditional one, with the expectation that you will satisfactorily complete your senior courses. The definition of satisfactory completion varies from college to college and from student to student. If you are a 90 student, your grades should not dip below the middle to upper 80’s. If you are an 80 student, your grades should not fall below the middle to upper 70’s. If you drop more than five points, you may receive a “disappointed letter.”
Many seniors wrongly perceive senior year as a time to goof off and enjoy their remaining time in high school. High school is four years, not three as some seniors believe, so you must continue to focus on senior year courses. Your college acceptance may be in jeopardy, so do not ignore the warning signs, such as:
- Phone calls or letters sent home from your teachers
- Increase in unexcused absences
- Drop in grades
Do not underestimate the seriousness of this problem. There are several potential actions which colleges can take:
- Withdraw or rescind an offer of acceptance
- Ask you to call or write with an explanation of your decline in grades
- Place you on academic probation
- Withdraw scholarship money
- Require regular meetings with academic advisors or a dean
Keep in mind colleges are first receiving your final transcript in the end of June or in July, so you may not receive a “disappointed” letter until late July or August. At this point, you would have told everyone where you are going to college, and you will be preparing to begin classes soon. You will have to immediately respond to a letter if you get one. You must explain your behavior, and you should be legitimately sorry and accept responsibility for your actions. If you are fortunate, colleges may accept your apology and permit you to attend their college in the fall, if you agree to the conditions they impose on you. If you have completely bombed your senior year and your offer is rescinded, you may have to make a major change in plans and attend an alternate college at the last minute. Do not let senioritis happen to you, as the consequences may be very severe and embarrassing. Fortunately, you can avoid this scenario. You have been forewarned, so take all of your senior classes seriously.
In addition to poor grades in senior year, there are other reasons why a college may withdraw its offer after you have been accepted:
- False information or statements on your application
- Disciplinary issues, including violence, cheating, drug-related charges, theft, and inappropriate Web posting
- Sending multiple deposits to colleges
You’ve worked so hard to gain acceptance to college, don’t risk having an offer withdrawn by violating the above ethical principles.
What Are My Senior Year Responsibilities?
As we have previously discussed, the senior year is of critical importance to colleges. As a senior in high school, you still have much to do. Your responsibilities include:
- Ensuring your applications are complete and all documents have been received by your colleges
- Thanking teachers and counselors for writing letters of recommendation (a sincere thank-you note or a small token of appreciation is appropriate)
- Re-visiting colleges once you have been accepted in order to make your final decision
- Ensuring your parents file the FAFSA and other financial aid documents as soon as possible after January 1
- Considering obtaining a job to help you pay for college
- Researching potential scholarships you may qualify for and getting applications in on time
- Researching and planning a gap year, if possible
- Planning for something to do the summer before you enter college: job, internship, volunteer, travel, research
- Reviewing the general education or core requirements needed for the college you will be attending
- Preparing for college—attending orientations, registering for classes, and shopping for dorm and other needed items
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