What to Do If You're on the Waitlist

Woman using laptop on staircaseWhen college decision letters start arriving in mailboxes and inboxes across the country, several thousand students will open a letter with word that they’ve been placed on a college’s waitlist. Neither a “yes” nor a “no,” the waitlist response allows a college to delay the admissions decision for a group of student applicants. Waitlists can include hundreds of students, and it’s anyone’s guess from year to year how many students, if any, will be accepted off a particular college’s waitlist.

Students have to be patient when placed on a waitlist, but there are still some things they can do to let the college know they’re still interested and invested in the school. If your child receives a waitlist notice, encourage him or her to take action by following our tips below.

  • Write an email or letter to the admissions representative responsible for your application. You can find the name of that person by checking the college’s admissions webpage, or calling the office. Stress your continued interest in the school, and if the college is your top choice, include that in your note.

  • Maintain a strong GPA throughout senior year. Communication from the admissions office offering a place in the freshman class can come as late as August. You’ll want to show that you worked hard academically until graduation.

  • Keep the college updated on any new awards or honors you receive inside or outside of the classroom.

  • Check in periodically. Every few weeks, give the admissions office a call to let them know that you’re still hoping for an acceptance.

  • Make sure you submit a deposit by the deadline to one of the colleges where you’ve been accepted. If you don’t end up admitted to your waitlisted school, you’ll want to make sure you’ve secured a place in the freshman class elsewhere. Keep in mind that these deposits are usually non-refundable.

As your family continues to plan for college, take advantage of our resources to help you understand your financial aid letters and make a plan to pay your bill. You can attend a seminar in your community, watch a webinar, or reference our valuable information and tools online. If you have questions, you can call us at (800) 449-MEFA (6332) or email us at