The whole term “waitlist” drives me crazy.
It implies to students that there is some sort of list with an order and leaves them wondering where they fall on that list. In reality, it’s just a pool – a mix of all the students who were in that gray area of being almost good enough to be accepted, but not quite weak enough to be straight out denied. It leaves them wondering how close they were to getting in – thus, questioning what their order is on the list and what the chances are of getting accepted.
In theory, it’s really just one big pool of students left influx so that colleges can make sure they meet their enrollment goals. And if May 1 passes, and the College falls short in an enrollment area – specific major, financial ability, gender, ethnicity, etc, they will then go to that pool and looks for students that can best fill the gaps. I get it; at the end of the day college is a business and a business has to operate and pay bills. I just wish it didn’t have to be at the expense of misleading students or getting their hopes up.
Thankfully, more schools have been forthcoming about the realities of coming off their waitlist. A recent publication from the Princeton Review gathers data from over 300 colleges detailing their Fall 2017 application pool and shows just how many students were waitlisted, the number of students who asked to remain on the waitlist and the reality of how many students were actually pulled off the waitlist.
For the students out there that are on a waitlist and want to attend that college, they should continue to show demonstrated interest in that college, but also continue to fully explore the colleges they have been accepted to and make a commitment to one of their acceptances by May 1. Colleges that pull from the waitlist (waitpool!) often do so after May 1st, so they do not want to risk losing their spot at an accepted college.
Jenna Schebell is the Director of Guidance at Saint John Vianney High School in Holmdel, New Jersey. Prior to her position at SJV, she worked for over ten years in college admissions at Marymount Manhattan College, New York City, and The University of Tampa, Florida.