Has Your Child Been Waitlisted? Here’s What You Should Know

Has your child been placed on a college waitlist? Here's your next steps.

Has your child been placed on a college waitlist? Here's your next steps.

If there’s anything more stressful than your child being flat out rejected by a university, it might be them getting waitlisted instead. Not rejected outright, but not accepted either, your child is in a gray area where their university dream is painfully prolonged. 

As a parent, what should you do to help? What does all of this mean?

Slim Chances

The chances of getting accepted off of a waitlist are slim, but not impossible. On average, 17% of students who were waitlisted were admitted. 58% of the schools admitted 10% or less of the students accepting a place on the wait list last year, 41% of the schools admitted 5% or less, and 12% admitted no one.

With statistics like this, some families throw in the towel. They take the waitlist as a no and put a deposit down on a different school that their child was accepted to. On the flip side, it isn’t unheard of for parents to get creative to get their child noticed. I’m talking sending baked goods, calling every day, or even writing songs. Is this something you, as a parent, should do?

Appropriate Responses to a Waitlist

Just like with anything, you and your child must be tactful and thoughtful when it comes to pursuing college acceptance. Do not go off the deep end and call, email, and complain about or to the school. This can make the situation worse.

With that being said, there are some tactics you and your child can employ to increase their chances of acceptance.

First off, talk to your child about their genuine feelings. Was this school their first choice? Is it worth fighting for? If so, you can continue by employing some methods to get the attention of admissions officers. Always be sure you and your student are being honest with each other and with the school. Don't try feeding the same line to multiple schools. This has been done in the past and can backfire with the student getting accepted into neither institution.

Do not contact the college yourself. Instead encourage and help your child to do it. Colleges want to see students who take initiative, not a student who is being micro-managed by a parent.

Your child can follow up with the school by phone, letter or email to let the university know that they are first-choice. Your child can send updated academic information and reference letters. They may also get creative and send other items that demonstrate their ability to thrive at the chosen school. This could include photos, videos, essays, songs or poems, and other items that help show off special talents or abilities. 

Some students go overboard with creativity and send items like baked goods or other gifts. Although the intention may be pure, this could be looked on as bribery. Stick to creative and factual documents and media items.

The statistics speak for themselves when it comes to the waitlist process. Your students chances is about 17%. If this is their dream university it is worth fighting for that chance.

Remain optimistic, but be realistic. If your child was accepted to a different school, sit down with them and list the pros and cons of both of the universities. If they want to take their chances and wait it out, that can be one of the first of many decisions they will make as an adult. As a parent, your job is to lead by example and support them, no matter what they decide to do.