Last Updated: July 23, 2013
Getting wait-listed can be perceived as a positive thing for some hopeful students. To them, it means their dream school has not out-right denied them, and that’s a good thing. They don’t see through to the fact that college admissions comes down to a game of supply and demand.
The New York Times recently reported some surprising numbers regarding college waiting lists that might make you wish you were just flat-out denied. The article mentions how Duke has a waiting list of 3,382 applicants. That is almost twice the size of the incoming freshman class.
And Duke isn’t alone. Lots of Ivy League and upper-tier schools are increasing the size of their waiting lists. Some reasons behind this might be due to uncertainty due to the economy–students who may have been able to afford a university with Duke’s tuition years before might not be able to now–and also that college-bound students are applying to far more schools than they were before. A high school senior today might apply to 15 colleges. The world of college admissions is a whirlwind of uncertainty.
So is it worth the wait?
If you decide to stay put on the waiting list past May 1st, you will lose registration deposits at other colleges you were accepted to. But, the possibility of enrollment at your dream college might be worth that to you. The waiting list might be 3,382 applicants long now, but by May 1st, perhaps a thousands students will decide to enroll at schools that have said “yes” to them, giving you a better probability of getting in to the school that’s told you “maybe”.
Still, if students take their names off of a waiting list, it isn’t necessarily the case that you move up the list. Actually, chances are, there really isn’t a numeric order to a waiting list. Schools want to fill voids in their freshman class. It can get as specific as a freshman class needing an alto saxophonist or more English majors or more students from North Dakota.
You might fit what the college needs, you might not.
Is waiting on the waiting list worth it to you? Comment and let us know!
Original Post Date: April 28th, 2011