Is It Ok To Join Multiple Waitlists?

Waitlists are in vogue. Only a handful of years ago, students felt dinged when they were WL-ed, but now, many are excited. “I still have a chance,” said a student waitlisted at Cornell. “At least they haven’t rejected me,” said another student wistfully; she’s waitlisted at George Washington University.

These past few weeks I’ve been fielding various waitlist questions, including these three which feel the most salient:

Are Waitlists Real?

Oh, yes. Waitlists move just like the line at airport security, slowly and deliberately. Colleges over-accept students for a class in order to make their yield, i.e. the amount needed for a healthy (financially solvent) grade. If a college feels that they’ll get that yield based on the matriculation of those they’ve accepted, then that college doesn’t need a waitlist. Students will simply be denied admission. So, if you’ve been waitlisted, you’re a ball still in play.

Can I Join Multiple Waitlists?

Yes. When writing multiple waitlist letters, refrain from copy/pasting a generic chunk of information that sounds multi-use versus single-purpose. Focus on how you’d apply your academic and extracurricular skillset to a successful sojourn at X college, mentioning any accomplishments you’ve achieved since applying in the winter and expressing how excited you are about joining the idiosyncratic community of X college.

That said, if there’s one school, above the others, that you’d attend if accepted, write that sentiment to ONLY one college. In other words, don’t write a binding waitlist letter to multiple schools.

What if I Don’t Want to Wait?

If there’s a school in your list of acceptances that seems like a good fit for you, accept them back! The waitlist game isn’t for everyone. It can create anxiety by delaying committing to a school and that feeling can easily convert a positive college application experience into a tense one. Trust me: every school on your list and every school that accepted you is a good school, one where you will receive a top-notch education, meet new friends and enter the world equipped to embrace your next adventure.

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