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  • Bentham Admissions Team

What To Do When You Are Waitlisted At An Ivy League School

Getting waitlisted at an Ivy League school may feel disheartening, especially when you’ve been hoping for admission for many months. Though nobody who is waitlisted should ever assume that they’ll get into their university of choice, there are ways through which students can increase their odds of admission from the waitlist.

What to do when you are waitlisted at an ivy league school?

You can find information about waitlisting at Ivy League schools and advice for waitlisted students below.

This article will cover the following:

Ivy League Admissions Statistics

Before we can understand the nuances of Ivy League admissions statistics, it is important to thoroughly understand what the waitlist is and how it works. When a university sends out acceptances to its applicant pool, it is aiming to build an incoming class of a certain size.

Hello May

After May 1, students will either accept or reject their offers of admission. When a university’s incoming class size is not as large as the school would like, it needs to offer admission to additional students. To accomplish this, the university has a waitlist of applicants who did not receive admission but could be offered these additional matriculation spots.

Therefore, when you are waitlisted you are neither accepted nor outright rejected; you are being given an opportunity to “take” a spot in the incoming class from an accepted student who doesn’t matriculate.

Your chances of admission from the waitlist at an Ivy League school strongly vary from school to school. It’s therefore important to look at the incoming class size, waitlist size, and the number of students admitted from the waitlist at various Ivy League schools.

Some Ivy League schools routinely accept a good number of students from their waitlist. For example, Cornell offered 6,683 students a spot on their waitlist for the 2018-2019 academic year. 4,546 of these students accepted a spot on the waitlist. Cornell ended up admitting 164 students from that waitlist.

Therefore, students who accepted Cornell’s waitlist offer had about a 4% chance of admission, which means that a waitlisted Cornell student still has a fighting chance of admission.

Other Ivy League schools hardly accept any students off their waitlist. The University of Pennsylvania, for example, waitlisted 3,535 students during the 2018-2019 admissions cycle. 2,561 of these students accepted their waitlist offer, and of these students, 9 were admitted. Therefore students who accepted UPenn’s waitlist offer had about a .4% chance of admission; this probability of getting waitlisted and admitted at UPenn is an order of magnitude smaller than the probability of getting waitlisted and admitted at Cornell.

Generally, when it comes to Ivy League schools, Brown, Cornell, and Yale admit around 100 students off their waitlist each admissions cycle while UPenn, Dartmouth, Columbia, Princeton, and Harvard routinely admit 0-40 students from their waitlist.

Therefore your chances of admissions from a waitlist at an Ivy League school vary greatly from school to school.

These statistics also indicate how important it is to accept your waitlist offer. Every admissions cycle hundreds of students don’t accept their offer; many students often unknowingly miss out on their opportunity to get admitted off the waitlist by neglecting to accept their waitlist offer.

How To Get Off An Ivy League Waitlist

The first step to securing an admission after getting waitlisted is accepting a spot on the waitlist. This shows the school to which you applied that you prioritize attending their university.

Admissions officers also recommend that waitlisted students contact the school’s admissions office and emphasize their interest in attending. It’s advantageous to have admissions officers recognize your name.

There are many waitlisted students who simply do nothing and wait after being waitlisted, and so you have an advantage over these students when you contact the university’s admissions office.

When you contact an admissions officer, you should emphasize that the school is your number one choice, and you should update the admissions officers with any new accomplishments you’ve achieved since submitting your application.

Contacting the admissions officer

These accomplishments can include awards you’ve won, leadership positions you’ve secured, and increases in your GPA. You can also request to visit the school’s campus if circumstances permit this.

It is better to contact the admissions offices a few times in a professional, organized fashion than to repeatedly and haphazardly call or email admissions officers. It is a good strategy to send the admissions office an email that reinforces your high interest in attending the school and details all of your recent accomplishments in an organized manner.

After this email is sent, it is advisable to set up a phone call with an admissions officer to discuss the information you presented in your email. It is not advisable to send many brief emails and continually call the admissions office; you don’t want the admissions officers to view you as unprofessional or as an annoyance.

After you contact the admissions office to your school of choice and make your case for admission, you should have a backup plan. You should identify your “backup” school—a school to which you’ve secured admission and would attend if you don’t get off the waitlist at your top choice—and submit a deposit to that school.

Why would you want to submit a deposit to another school if it’s not your top choice? The answer is simple: the number of people who are taken off of the waitlist depends on the number of students who decide to matriculate.

Schools generally receive acceptances from students awarded an offer of admission on May 1. After this date, schools who see less matriculation than they need for their class size begin to admit students off of their waitlist.

Therefore, not sending a deposit for a backup school means that you risk not having anywhere to attend if you’re not admitted from the waitlist; you should never open yourself up to this kind of risk.

If you are waitlisted at an Ivy League school, your best strategy is to contact the admissions office and prove why you’re an ideal candidate for admission. College admissions consultants can help students contact admissions offices in a professional and impressive manner.

After you do this, you must place a deposit for a backup school. Student applicants often apply to several Ivy League schools and receive admission offers from more than one school; this leaves spots in incoming Ivy League classes for students to secure admission off of the waitlist.

If you are admitted off of the waitlist, it is imperative that you contact your backup school and inform them of your decision. While you won’t get your deposit back, telling your backup school that you won’t be attending allows that school to admit more students off of their waitlist.

Waitlisted? Can I Still Go to Another Ivy League School?

If you find yourself waitlisted at your “top choice” Ivy but you were accepted to another Ivy League school, you can always send a deposit at the school you were accepted to and stay on the waitlist for your top choice.

Admission rates for waitlisted students vary wildly between different Ivy League schools, so it’s important to keep the aforementioned waitlist admissions statistics in mind when making these decisions.

If you find yourself admitted from your top choice’s waitlist, you can inform the school to which you sent your deposit that you will not be attending and attend your top choice. If you are not admitted from the waitlist at your top choice, you can still go to the Ivy League school to which you sent your deposit.

If you were not admitted to any Ivy League schools but accepted to a non-Ivy, it is advisable to send your deposit to a school that accepted you as you wait to hear your results from the waitlist.

If you truly have your heart set on an Ivy League school, you can always take a gap year and apply again during the next admissions cycle. An admissions consultant can help students waitlisted at Ivies decide how they will proceed in this complicated admissions process.



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