Sunday, April 03, 2011

Wait Lists: A Good Idea?

Earlier this weekend I receive an email from a client  with questions about the wait list option as part of the college admisions process. Agreeing to be placed on a college's wait list can be a good idea,  if that college is the student's first choice. Here are questions to ask the college as you consider the wait list:

1. How many  students are on the wait list?
2. Where are you on that list?
3. Were students on the wait list offered admission in the last two years?  How many in each year were offered admissions?

It is important to know that you are not obligated to accept an admissions offer from a college that places you on the wait list. Typically, colleges go to the wait list after May 1st, the day students need to tell colleges, if they have accepted a college's admissions offer. So most students on the waitlist have already accepted an admissions offer from their second choice college. Schools pull students off the wait list throughout the summer, even as late as August is some cases. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. You lose the non-refundable deposit at the college you have accepted an offer from in May. Deposits are typical  $500.

2. You need to see what the financial aid award from the wait list school will be. It may not be as desirable. The bulk of the funds will have already be awarded.  However, there may be funds as a result of students turning down the first run of admissions acceptances.
3. If the offer comes in late July or early August that could be cutting it close for getting a choice student housing assignment.

4. You could be rushing to get placement testing scheduled and registering for classes.
5. Available class offerings may not be the desired courses/days/times. (For example: student may be stuck with early morning or late afternoon classes or classes on Friday afternoon.)

If you do accept admissions from a college that waitlisted you, know that you will have more choices available to you when you register for spring semester.
The wait list can help you get in to your top choice college. Just make sure you ask questions to reduce the stress and prevent any unexpected issues.

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