tjTOMORROW: The “Dos” and “Don’ts” of being on a waitlist

Lindsay Williams, Online Editor in Chief

For many seniors, the last two weeks have either been ecstatic or excruciating. But for some, it’s been mediocre. When those seniors logged onto their portals or emails, ready for the wait to be over and expecting either glorious victory or crushing defeat, they instead found an invitation to wait some more.

Being on a waitlist is often very disappointing, and many students take it like a rejection, but it doesn’t have to be. Being on the waitlist means you have a shot. Keeping that in mind, there are definitely ways to improve one’s chances.

Although these ways will not guarantee that you will be removed from the waitlist, they are pieces of advice from two Jefferson alumni Jeff Horowitz and Ben Stoyen, who were accepted to Rice and Emory respectively off the waitlists, and Jefferson guidance counselor Sean Burke.


Figure out whether you actually want to be on the waitlist. While this may seem simple, according to Burke, all too often students want to jump right in and go for the “yes,” without stopping to think about whether they really want to go to that school or not. Being on the waitlist is a difficult process, and if the waitlisted university not right for you, don’t bother with it.

Find out what the school wants from you. Not every university has the same waitlist: some will put thousands on the waitlist and take few, while others, such as University of California, Berkley, took all of the students that had accepted a position on their waitlist last year. Thus, not every school is looking for the same thing in a waitlist applicant. Burke recommends researching exactly what the university wants and providing those materials.


Wait until the last minute to accept your spot on the waitlist. If you’re sure you want to be put on it, some colleges that track demonstrated interest will look favorably on the fact that you accepted your spot on the waitlist sooner rather than later.

Put your name on the waitlist and hope that they’ll take you off without hearing from you. Although it’s possible for this to work, some universities track demonstrated interest and want more supplemental materials to distinguish who they want to take off the waitlist. Again, it’s important to figure out what the school wants, but enthusiasm can be helpful.