Wait! I’ve been Waitlisted?!?

Purgatory. Limbo. It’s neither the jubilation of being admitted nor the clear direction to move on. After months of hard work, and even more months of excruciating anticipation, Dream U has made a decision. You’ve been waitlisted. What do you do now?

Very few people typically get off the waitlist. During the 2018-2019 application year, Rice admitted 31 of the 3,296 students on the wait list (1%); Dartmouth placed 2,151 students on the wait list and took none. So, it’s important to get excited and fully committed to one of the other wonderful schools that have offered you a place in their freshman class. Pay the deposit. Select your housing. Form relationships with your future classmates through social media and admitted student events. But, if you still want to make sure you have left no stone unturned, you can try your chances at getting off the waitlist. After formally accepting a place on the waitlist, write a letter to your admissions officer to ask them to reconsider your candidacy.

Here’s an outline for your waitlist letter:


  • Introduce your name and high school
  • Indicate that you were disappointed by the decision to be waitlisted but understand, given the strength of the applicant pool
  • Restate interest in your dream school


  • Provide an update on your academics, extra-curricular activities and/or research
  • List any additional honors or awards you have earned since you submitted your application
  • Give an idea of what you are doing now or planning to do this summer

Why Dream U

  • State why you want to go to the school that has waitlisted you
  • What appeals to you about the school’s academics? What opportunities will you take advantage of?
  • How will you become engaged in the school’s community? What activities will you join and why?
  • What else appeals to you that is specific to that school? Location? Traditions?
  • If you are a legacy, be sure to state that
  • If you are comfortable making a commitment, you should indicate that, if offered a spot, you would accept it immediately and pay the deposit.


  • Reiterate your dream of attending Dream U
  • Explain how you will contribute to the school’s community (what values or experiences will you bring with you)

Submit your letter and forget about it. Who knows? If you do get admitted, you might decide that the friends you have made and the opportunities that await you at your current college are more appealing than what you thought “Dream U” had, after all.

Mauler Pattern Thin
Mauler Pattern Thin