The All-Important Wait List Strategy

 The All Important Wait List StrategyIf your child has been wait listed by a college, you should know that there is a different strategy required to be selected if space opens up.

Every college/university admits more than the spaces they actually have to fill because they know that not all of their carefully chosen admitted students will choose to enroll.  This number, quoted as a percentage, is known as the ‘yield’.  Yield is one of the three most important numbers to an admissions director because it communicates how desirable that school is, communicating how many accepted the invitation to the party, so to speak.

Since May 1 is the deadline for admitted students to make their final choice of college, sometime in the week thereafter the admissions staffs will calculate their yields, make an educated guess at how many students saying yes will actually change their minds during the summer (something called “melt”) and decide if they must go to their wait list to enroll their target class size come September.

Every year wait list numbers vary based on the million and one aspects at play in such a complicated and large system as college admissions.

This is why most schools do not sort or rank people on the wait list until they know whether or not they will actually need to take students from there.  It saves them energy when they need it most.

Here’s my point, however.  Because of the small time window (all wait lists must be closed out by Jane 30, thereby fixing the class for good), when admissions officers go the wait list, they want to make sure they get 100% of those candidates enrolling.  They will be looking for people who *will* enroll.

So if your child has been wait listed by the school of their dreams and will enroll if admitted, make sure they let the college know this.  Then have a few more people who know them well contact the admissions office to send the signal that this candidate can be counted upon to enroll in September if admitted off the wait list.  This means a bit more work, of course, and that might be a major drag for your child.  But it’s the most effective way to convert that decision to the affirmative.

You’d be surprised at how few wait listed students contact admissions offices, probably for fear of upsetting the staff or seeming inappropriate.  The exact opposite is true.

Remember that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Less Stress, More Success

"Her book has added to her reputation as a kind of guru of the movement to tame the college admissions frenzy.”
New York Times
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Our book group just read your book and it sparked more conversation than we’ve had in the seven years we’ve been reading together. Being successful professionals with busy lives and even busier children, we’re all trying to figure out how to find the time to just stop and enjoy our lives amidst so much pressure. Some of us find ourselves quoting you to our husbands and kids now, so you are our hero. ;-)
Sophia N. and Nancy R.

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