Here's Why You Don't Want To End Up On A College Waitlist


Photo: See-ming Lee 李思明 SML on flickr

It’s college admissions time, and thousands of high school seniors are waiting to see if they’ll make it off a waitlist and into the school of their dreams.Chances are, they won’t.

According to Melissa Korn in the Wall Street Journal, while most universities create large waitlists in order to fill potential holes in their classes down the line, barely any waitlisted students are ever actually offered spots.

Cornell University didn’t offer a spot to any of the 2,998 students on its waitlist last year, Korn writes. And Carnegie Mellon accepted just six out of more than 5,000.

And while some students are waitlisted because schools think they have potential, others are just offered waitlist spots as a courtesy.

Korn writes:

And then there are the “courtesy” waitlist offers. It is common for elite institutions to place a number of students on their lists even when they have virtually no chance of being seriously considered for admission, [Kennon Dick of College Coach and a former associate dean of admissions at Swarthmore College] said. They may be children of alumni or faculty, or candidates whom admissions officers found interesting but whose grades or test scores fell short.

“You’ll get some really angry alumni calling if you deny their kid,” Mr. Dick said.

Considering how tough it is to get into the nation’s best universities these days, getting off a waitlist is almost like playing the lottery.

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