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Part 1: How to Get Off the Waitlist?

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

It's that time of year again, when all the college decisions are being released. This year, however, was a particularly crazy year for applicants. With the pandemic, many high school seniors deferred applying to college for a year, and this year, colleges saw incredibly high applicant numbers. If you were waitlisted at your dream school, and still want to attend your dream school, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting off the waitlist.

Common Themes That May Lead to Being Waitlisted

Before you do anything, I highly recommend self-reflection occur on your application to identify gaps in your application and where your application could be improved.

While I don't know all the reasons why someone may be waitlisted, there are a few common themes I have noticed amongst most people who were deferred or waitlisted. Thinking about which theme is relevant for you, may help determine how to write your continued interest letter (and clear up any gaps in your initial application).

1. The college didn't clearly understand why you wanted to go to college. Time and time again, I have read past applications of highly qualified students (great GPA and amazing test scores) that didn't include clear details about why he or she wants to obtain a higher education. At the end of the day, colleges want to know that you are thoughtful about your long-term goals and you know how you want to spend your time in college. While four years, or eight semesters, may seem like a lot of time, it's not. You can't explore every major or every course in college. Students who don't clearly share their purpose for attending college are disadvantaged in the college selection process, because, by comparison, other students appear far more focused in their applications.

2. The college didn't clearly understand why you wanted them (and didn't believe you would actually accept their admission). For the purpose of their statistics and yield, colleges want to know that you may actually attend their university, should you be granted admission.

One of these scenarios may have happened:

  • Your essays were too generic: You haven't shown the university you did your homework about the university. You didn't clearly articulate your excitement about their college, in particular (i.e. your essays or interview responses felt generic).

  • Your test scores were too high: Your test scores and GPA may actually be much higher than their average, and the college believed you only applied to them as a safety or back-up option.

  • You come from a high school or region that doesn't typically matriculate: You may be coming from a particular region or school, where students don't typically attend their university. Thus, without extra articulation of why you want their university, the college may assume a lower likelihood you would accept their admission.

Regardless of the scenario, you may haven't shown them you would attend, if accepted.

3. The college didn't clearly understand your unique qualities. Sometimes I am shocked when I meet amazing students, who didn't get into their dream school. I then read their applications and realize they didn't share why they are amazing.

For example, you may have won your state championship in swimming, as a freshman. Wow! Amazing. However, you only shared in your application that you are on the swimming team... and that's it. Oh boy. Very big missed opportunity. Not only was the not accomplishment shared, but the lessons learned to get to that state championship title was not explained.

Colleges not only want to understand your amazing accomplishments, but they also want to understand your personality, your areas of strength and how you will integrate within the campus life, as a whole. Colleges want to feel your unique qualities when they read your application. Your amazing qualities should scream off the page and be incredibly clear.

Writing Your Continued Interest Letter

Once you reflect on your application, you are ready to write your continued interest letter. See Part 2: How to Get Off the Waitlist for ideas to include in your continued interest letter.

Have More Questions?

Should you have any specific questions about your past applications, and want to try to get off the waitlist, feel free to e-mail Rose College Prep at We offer free 15-minute consultations. We are here, if you need us!

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