The words

3 Things I Learned From Being Waitlisted

Being on a college waitlist can feel like a roller coaster of emotions. Here's what Valeria learned after being waitlisted by five schools!

It’s no secret that the college admission landscape changes every year. Once upon a time in 1941, Harvard admitted 92% of its applicants, and it has been steadily declining since, reaching a staggering 4.59% acceptance rate as of 2018. Over the last few years, application pools have become larger and thus more competitive. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) in its yearly State of College Admission report, the number of applications from first-year students increased by 7% between 2015 and 2016, and surprisingly enough, this trend shows no sign of slowing down. With this kind of influx in college applications, few students remain strangers to the infamous waitlist. “From Fall 2015 to Fall 2016, the number of students offered a place on an admission wait list increased by 11 percent,” according to NACAC.

While competition on the waitlist is also brutal, schools have shown to accept more students from the list than ever before. Students are now applying to more colleges, so they usually get a wider range of options to choose from. As a result, the average yield (the amount of students who enroll) at schools decreased from 36.2% to 35.1% from 2014–2015, allowing the number of accepted students from the waitlist to increase by 31% on a national scale. On March 28, I received the last of my college decisions. Out of the 18 schools I applied to—yes, I was one of those students—four accepted me, 11 rejected me, and five offered me a place on their waitlist. I decided to remain on all of them, and it was a roller coaster of emotions. Here is what I learned after being waitlisted by five schools:

1. What’s done is done

At this point, there isn’t much you can do to improve your odds of acceptance. You can’t rewrite your supplements, nor can you improve your GPA or extracurriculars. Forget about what isn’t or what could have been. Instead of adding more stress, focus and try to find new alternatives on how to stand out.

Related: How to Escape Your Dream College's Waitlist

2. You have nothing to lose

Colleges won’t ask for much on their waitlist forms. Most will simply want you to indicate whether or not you would like to remain on the waitlist, while others may ask you to write a short essay on your interest in the institution.

I’m not insinuating you should annoy the admission office to the point where they don’t want you anymore, but don’t be afraid to show your interest. If you’re not satisfied with the information the college already has on you, elaborate on your passion for the school and your achievements since submitting your original application. Call them once every week or two asking about any updates. Write an appeal letter. If you really want to attend there, let them know.

3. Patience is key

Larger schools like New York University will usually have a thread on College Confidential with other students in your situation. While this resource can be used for your benefit to know where you stand, it can also mess with your head. As much as we try to be happy for those who are getting accepted, it’s inevitable to feel anxiety creeping in. Is that it for me? Should I just give up? However stressful it might be, keep patience because otherwise, you’re adding stress that you don’t need.

Related: More Waiting? 7 Tips for Students on the Waitlist

My journey on the waitlist hasn’t been easy, but I’ve made peace with it. Although I’m keeping my fingers crossed to get into one of those schools, I decided to pay my deposit and enroll at the college that offered me the most financial aid. My experience has taught me that I shouldn’t worry about what school I do or do not attend. Most often that has nothing to do with whether someone becomes successful in life—it’s what you do at your college that counts.

What do you want? What are your dreams? Even if you don’t know what they are, you should think of the things you like and are interested in. You should experiment and explore with them, because that is how one becomes financially successful, but most importantly, happy.

Find the school that can help you get reach for the stars with our College Search tool!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
college admission college decision appeals college decisions college waitlists waitlist advice

About Valeria Renee Rivera

Valeria is a senior from the American School of El Salvador looking to pursue her undergraduate studies in the United States. She has experience as a blogger for Day of the Girl and is a member of the Her Campus High School Ambassador Program. When she is not binge-watching Netflix, Valeria enjoys spending her afternoon in small coffee shops or museums while listening to the latest playlist she has created. Her ultimate dream is to travel the world accompanied by her camera and to own an apartment in NYC, where she will live with her dog, Tommy.   

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo

$10,000

Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Amelia

Amelia

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress helped open me up to many colleges that fit my interests. I’m only a sophomore in high school, so I like having a lot to look at, and CX does a great job of picking colleges that meet my wants. It's a great website that I'll continue to use until it comes time for me to apply for colleges. I also like that it notifies me through email with options to look at. Thanks CX!

Kyla McClain

Kyla McClain

High School Class of 2024

I found CollegeXpress when you partnered with Bold.org for a scholarship. I found your website, put my information in, and got connected. I only wanted to stay in North Carolina [for college] and not move far from home, but you all opened a door up for me. I started researching colleges you suggested for me. On your social media platforms, you also give really good test-taking tips that I used and suggested others to do the same. It helped me a lot on my exams, so thank you.

Carlie Cadet

Carlie Cadet

High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me learn about an abundance of scholarships available to me and my situation. I was able to do research for colleges in my best interest with your website. I've had multiple colleges email me and offer me multiple scholarships and things of that nature because of this website! Thank you so much for uploading scholarships I didn’t even know existed, even if my life took a huge turn and I wasn’t able to go to college straight out of high school. CollegeXpress helped me a lot in high school to be even more motivated to get into my dream college (which I did, by the way). I'm looking forward to using the materials CollegeXpress has kindly provided me for free to look for scholarships to help pay for college.

Tinuola Dada

Tinuola Dada

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2015

I am very excited to be this year's recipient of the Multicultural Student Community Service Scholarship. This scholarship will bring me ever closer to my academic and professional goals. CollegeXpress has been an exceptional resource to me, and I recommend it to all rising seniors as they begin to navigate the college application process.

Kayla

Kayla

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me organize the schools I wanted to choose from in one place, which then I could easily compare and find the school that was right for me!

College Matches