Waitlists have been growing year-after-year, but with applicants applying to more schools than ever before, you can expect university waitlists to be significantly larger for the class of 2025. New York University, for example, received over 100,000 applications for 6,000 spots, and as senior vice president for enrollment MJ Knoll-Finn says, this year “will be a nail-biter.”
With disrupted standardized testing, course offerings, and extracurricular opportunities, U.S. colleges and universities are expected to rely heavily on waitlists to craft their 2025 classes. It is predicted that many students will find themselves in the unenviable position of being placed on at least waitlist, and it could take until summer to be moved off of them. So if you are one of those students, you are not alone, and you can expect a long wait.
Here’s what you need to do to improve your chances of moving from a waitlist to and admitted list:
1) Follow the directions
Many schools require an applicant to formally accept their position on the waitlist. You will want to do this.
Some schools ask that you update them with any new information about your grades or experience, while others explicitly tell you not to. Be sure you follow directions. Not doing so will likely get you rejected.
2) Call the university
If it isn’t already reported in your waitlist email or the university website, it can help to find out your chances of being moved off a waitlist. By calling the school, you also show interest. Ask these questions:
- How many people are on the waitlist?
- How many people tend to move from the waitlist?
- When will you be making waitlist decisions?
- Do you rank the applicants on the waitlist? And, if so, where do I fall?
Then email the person you spoke with a quick thank you, and you can reference them in the next step, the LOCI.
Write a letter of continued interest (LOCI)
Let’s start by addressing who you should email. Universities get many letters from interested applicants, and if you want yours to really stand out, you should email your regional admissions counselor.
Sometimes finding your regional representative is easy, and sometimes it is difficult. Here’s what you do:
- Start with the university website. If you can’t find the regional counselors quickly on the admissions page, you can do an internet search for “[university name] admissions counselor by region”.
- If that only turns up the representative’s name, you will need to find their email. Go to the faculty directory on the university website for that.
- If you are still unable to find the email of your regional counselor, download hunter.io. Then go to linkedin and search for “University Name admissions.” Scroll through the individuals who come up until you find your representative. If you are still unsuccessful, email the dean or another person in the admissions office.
When it comes to writing the LOCI, the more personal, the better. I have two templates that you can look over, but they must be personalized.
Dear (regional admissions counselor),
Thank you for taking the time to review my application for the (year) school year and for offering me a place on the waitlist.
I am writing to reiterate my interest in University Name and to assure you that, should I be moved from the waitlist, I will immediately withdraw my other applications.
Aside from (one thing you love about the school), University Name perfectly aligns with my (academic / personal) interests. Specifically, I am interested in (course / professor’s work / program / club / campus tradition) because (why).
In addition to (above mentioned factor(s)), I am confident that I will bring a unique perspective to University Name. Due to my (relevant background / experiences / interests), I will bring (something no one else has) to the school community.
I also want to take this opportunity to update my application. Since my submission in (month), I have (completed a research project / earned perfect fall semester grades / started volunteering in my community / accepted an internship / started working part time / won an award / raised X for my club / something NEW and INTERESTING about you). (Why is this important and interesting?)
University Name remains my top choice. The (major) program aligns perfectly with my (career) goals, and I can see myself fitting in on campus because (why).
From the virtual campus tour I took in the fall, to the alumni interview I had with (name), to my most recent conversation with (name) in the admissions office, every interaction I have had with University Name has been enjoyable, and I look forward to continuing these positive experiences should I be offered a position off of the waitlist.
Thank you very much for your time.
Dear (regional admissions counselor),
Last week I (talked with a current student / interviewed with an alum / found a new program that interests me / discovered a new campus tradition / something NEW that excites you about the school). I was impressed with (why). Now I love University Name even more.
Although I have been waitlisted, I am excited to have the opportunity to prove University Name is my first choice and that I would be a good contribution to its (descriptor) campus. As my favorite university, I will immediately withdraw my other applications if I am accepted from the waitlist.
Since submitting my application in (month), I have (completed a research project / earned perfect fall semester grades / started volunteering in my community / accepted an internship / started working part time / won an award / raised $X for my club / something NEW and INTERESTING about you). (Why is this important and interesting?)
Thank you very much for your time. I am excited to have the chance to attend University Name, and I wish you a restful summer.
Don’t give up!
If you are struggling with being placed on a waitlist and want an expert to help you with next steps, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’ve helped many students move to the admitted pile and can do the same for you. Add me on WeChat under kvanderweert.