How to Leave Waitlist Limbo

Many high school seniors waiting into the summer for responses from schools they’ve been waitlisted at. Photo courtesy of

Jace Jenican, Opinions Editor

As May 1st, the deadline to submit an enrollment deposit to colleges, approaches, many YLHS seniors have made the final decision about where they will go next fall. “I’m so excited to be attending Texas Christian University,” Dani Robertson enthusiastically reports. However, some seniors aren’t as eager about sending in their commitments. Many have been put on waitlists and are still holding out for their dream school to respond. But what should you do in the meantime if your left waiting by your top school?


Submit an enrollment deposit at one of the schools you were accepted to

Even though there is a chance the school you are waitlisted at will accept you, this means there is also a chance that it will not. If one doesn’t submit a deposit before May 1st then one will not be able to go to college in the fall without the acceptance from the waitlist school. Also, waitlist decisions are not realeased until after the May 1st deadline (so colleges can know how many people are in their freshman class and calculate how many people to accept from the waitlist), so relying solely on getting off the waitlist is foolish.


Update your application

If you want to keep your name fresh in the admissions committee’s mind, send a letter to the admissions office or your local admissions representative that does two things:

  • Presents new information
    • Tell them about some of the things that have happened since you initially sent in your application.
    • Update on any new awards, activities, projects, etc. that you think may impress the committee
    • Don’t be trivial or repeat old information! The admissions officers will view this as a waste of their time
  • Reaffirms your zeal
    • A factor for some colleges is how much a student wants the position
    • If a school can’t tell whether or not you will take the position if offered it, you might as well not be on the waitlist
    • Reiterate that this is your top choice school and you will definitely accept any spot offered to you (but only if it is true!)


Follow up

If you have not received a response from the college after you submitted your letter, call or email the admissions office to make sure they have read it. This accomplishes three things: it makes sure the admissions office actually got your letter, it keeps you fresh in their minds, and it demonstrates that you are eager to go there for college.



After updating your application and following up with the admissions office, you have done all you can. Now you must wait for the final decision which, for some colleges, may not be out until late summer. But do not give up hope! If it truly is your top choice college, an acceptance letter will definitely be worth the wait.