Why College Wait Lists Will Be So Long This Year

Mar 25, 2021 | podcast

In today’s episode of “College Admissions Real Talk”, Dr. Legatt discusses waitlists in the era of COVID-19.


VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 

AL: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk. This is Dr. Aviva Legatt, founder and Elite Admissions Expert at Ivy Insight and author of “Get Real and Get In”. Today we’re going to be talking about the interesting and somewhat unfortunate reality that applicants in 2021, who have potentially applied in Fall 2020 as well, will have to face, and that is the length of college waitlist this year. College wait lists are going to make this a very, very long this year. The Wall Street Journal reports that the pandemic has offended method the admissions officers used to predict how many students will enroll. So colleges are kind of flying blind. They’re trying to figure out who’s actually going to enroll next year, how many people they’re going to have and how they’re going to capacity plans. And then likewise, you’re trying to make your decisions with somewhat limited information compared to other kinds of years. When you may go through this process, college waitlists have always had some room for padding. It’s not a guarantee by any stretch if you’re on a waitlist that you have any shot. But this year, your College waitlist strategy will be a likely part of your overall College admission strategy. If you did not get into the colleges that you want and you were waitlisted at one of your best choice colleges. So this is where you need to step up and think about how you can demonstrate interest in your college. If you haven’t already taken the opportunity to write a letter of continued interest to that college before you get the decision, do that today. Make sure that you are in touch with the admissions office with people at the college as much as you can as often as you can be without being a pain in the butt. You want to only send updates that are relevant and helpful, but definitely do send those updates. Do not miss the opportunity to continue to build that relationship with any admissions officers. Because you’ve hedge your bets and applied to many colleges this year. It might be difficult for you to manage all the wait list. So my encouragement to you would be to focus on 1 or 2 of the wait list rather than if you, let’s say get waitlisted at five colleges. Don’t jump over all of them because you can use certain tools in your toolbox to help you off the waitlist. One of those tools is a letter of recommendation from somebody who knows about the college well and knows that’s why you would fit that college. Applications submitted via the Common App, which is used by more than 900 schools, rose by 11% nationwide through March 1 But the number of applicants only increased by 2.4%. And this means that nearly the same number of students are casting a much wider net. And I’ve talked to people who have applied to 25-30 schools, not my clients, because I would never encourage my clients to apply to that many schools. That’s not a good strategy, but there are a lot of people out there who were really diversifying their list, and it’s putting you and the college is in a difficult position if you’ve done that. So certainly this is a factor. If you haven’t applied to college yet, I would encourage you to keep your list small. No more than 10 to 15 colleges that are specifically and purposefully selected with the fit in mind. The second thing that the Wall Street Journal notes about college waitlist is that the pandemic has upended methods. Admissions officers use this to predict how many students will actually enroll. Are campus is going to have in-person instructions? Are they going to easily accept international students this year? Will people from out of state feel comfortable crossing state lines to go to these colleges? What will the vaccination rates look like? There are a lot of open questions that really make it difficult for you to predict where you’re going to enroll and for colleges to decide who ultimately deserves the spot. Ultimately, if you’re on the waitlist, you deserve a spot. But so do all the other people on the list. So again, demonstrating that interest is going to be really important, and it’s also going to be especially challenging if you do have a chance to connect with a professor at the college, the admin, admissions officer, your regional officer, your school counselor, to help advocate for you. Anyone that you can put in your corner to help you get off these wait lists will be a huge source of support and drastically increase your chances of getting in. The next thing is that some colleges actually will probably continue to accept students up through the file because conditions are constantly changing and you never know somebody could drop out and your number could be called your name could be called. So if you’re on the waitlist and you don’t get in right away, don’t necessarily take that as a closed door because the colleges may come knocking come fall, especially if you continue to stay in touch with them all summer. Now, this is not ideal, and I’m kind of cringing even sharing this because I don’t love the idea that the college process is continuing longer than it really should. But I highly recommend if there is a top choice college for which you’ve been waitlisted, keep calling up all summer, even if you don’t hear back in the initial round. These are all the reasons why demonstrating interests throughout the process, as well as in this time right before decisions are released, it’s critically important to you being a successful applicant, particularly in this challenging pandemic year. I wish you the best. And if we can help out in any way, email us at info@ivyinsight.com, and we’ll be glad to explore how we can support you 1 on 1. In the meantime, check out our It’s live and on replay all week long at collegeadmissionssummit.com Please sign up to get access. Until next time.

VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.