US University Admissions – Spring 2013 Issue

This time of year is always fraught with excitement, nervousness, and ultimately relief as we receive phone calls and e-mails from grads about where they have been admitted. We share in your joys, disappointments, and your confusion as you come to grips with the responses and make your final decisions.

Fortunately for most, there was more joy than disappointment this year. However, there was also frustration with increased wait-lists and heated competition across the board, particularly for the Ivies.

We are pleased to say that overall, there was excellent news and everyone has a college or university that is a great fit, one where they can succeed.

The Dreaded Wait-List: Moving the Dial

For those of you who were wait-listed, you are in good company. Colleges are using the wait-list more heavily this year because they are trying to manage their yields and have no way of predicting how many of the admitted students will take them up on their offer of admission. Additionally, applications were up in record numbers at many colleges/universities. As a result, schools are using the wait-list for students that are qualified and that they would love to admit if they had the space. Therefore, as they see who matriculates and who doesn’t, they can easily go to their wait-list and call or e-mail the applicant who best matches the type of person they need to create a well-rounded class. Each student will have to matriculate at one university by May 1 and then colleges will move to their wait-lists. If you are wait-listed and are later admitted to another university you wish to attend, you must send in a second deposit to this university and notify the original university that you will not be attending. You will, of course, forfeit the first deposit.


1) Because they don’t have enough slots for all the students they want to accept. 2) To determine if a student is truly interested in coming to their school. 3) To manage their yields and only accept students as others do not matriculate. 4) To manage enrolment by not having to offer financial or merit aid to wait-listed students.


1) Write a letter to let the college know that it is your first choice school and that you will enrol if admitted (if this is true) 2) Imagine what you would do as a student at this college/university. Try to communicate this effectively to admissions. Be very specific! 3) Send the letter out quickly to show that you are truly interested in the school and it is not an afterthought.

I have seen students successfully get off the wait-list each year, so being wait-listed is not without hope. However, I recommend moving forward with your other options with a positive mindset. For those students who were deferred in the early round and then wait-listed in the regular round, the chances of coming off the wait-list is more slim.

Finally, if you know that you are NOT going to one or more colleges to which you have been admitted, let them know as soon as possible so that they can inform another student who is on their wait-list. This is often done online but might vary by university.

Make sure you send in the required deposit to one school to which you have been admitted by the May 1 deadline- even if you’re still waiting to hear from a school where you’ve been waitlisted. If admitted to a wait-listed school that you prefer to attend, you must send in a second deposit to reserve your spot and let the first school know that you will now be attending a school where you managed to get off the wait-list.