Let’s Talk About Waitlists

After stalking your mailman for months, you finally received word from your #1 school! It’s a big envelope, so you feel extra hopeful. After carefully opening (*ripping your way through*) the fate holder, you skim the letter to find out you are on the waitlist. Now what?

First off, congrats! It’s not a No, which means you still have a chance. They saw potential and for whatever reason, can’t offer you a spot now but they could in the future.

So, now, more waiting, unfortunately. It can be daunting to try to figure out the best way to follow up with the school without sounding desperate. Each school has their own policies for a waitlist and some schools are much more likely than others to accept students off the waitlist. There’s no use in trying to investigate your odds as most schools are reluctant to tell you where you sit on the list, so, it’s best to show your interest and hope for the best.

Here are some tips for what to do while sitting on a waitlist:

Contact Admissions

First off, contact Admissions and let them know that you would like to stay on the waitlist. Usually, your decision letter will give you a heads up on how to easily do so. Some performing arts programs will automatically waitlist you for the program AND the school assuming you wouldn’t attend if not in the major – so be sure to let Admissions know you want to remain on the list.

Decide if you would 100% attend if accepted

This is important. Sometimes people want to remain on a waitlist just to see if they get in while others know for certain, even amongst other options they have, that if accepted to the waitlist program they will absolutely attend. This means you have to be fairly certain that even if not awarded a ton of financial aid or scholarship money you could still feasibly attend.

Some schools will ask you to rank your interest on a form while others don’t require anything. However, if you want them to know that they are truly your #1, I recommend telling them so. If you aren’t sure where they fall at this point (and that’s totally okay!), you don’t need to tell them the odds of you attending.

 Contact the Performing Arts Head

You can do so via email or a handwritten note. Let them know how excited you are to be on the waitlist and express your continued interest. Don’t overdo it: just 5-6 sentences is perfect. Don’t expect a response, so it’s best to avoid asking questions when you contact them.

Using the above tip as well, you can include (if this is true for you): “This remains my #1 school and if accepted I will attend.” This is very helpful for them to know.

Visit If Possible

If you have already visited, there’s no need. However, if you haven’t visited the school yet, this would be an excellent time to do so. Most schools allow students that are on the waitlist to attend their Accepted Student’s Day and this is a great time (although maybe a bit awkward for you) to show them your interest and figure out if this school really is the school for you.

Breathe and Wait

Avoid the temptation to continue contacting the department! Over-doing it is not a desirable quality and could lead to a no. You will need to wrap your head around another program and commit by May 1st as waitlists can open up all the way through the summer. So, be sure to commit elsewhere and hang tight on the waitlist.

One thing I also want you to know, that if you are released from a waitlist, that in no way makes you “less than” the originally admitted students. There are a million and one reasons why you could have been waitlisted and you deserve to be in that program as much as anyone else.

So, keep waiting and keep the faith!


About Chelsea Diehl

Chelsea is a social contributor for Acceptd and the founder of My College Audition.