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March 10, 2009

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If you've recently been wait-listed, take heart: you still have a chance. However, too many wait-listed applicants assume that the only way to get off the wait list is to wait. Unless the school specifically advises otherwise, you should follow up with the school to reiterate your interest and fill them in on any thing new that might help your chances.

Schools want to admit people who will attend; this is particularly true of the wait list. There will be many people on the wait list who already made a decision to attend another school; there will be others who desperately want to attend the school in question. Admissions officers can only distinguish these two groups of people by the level of interest you show after being wait-listed.

You should write a concise wait-list letter in which you:

  1. Express your interest in attending the school. You should thank them for considering you and not mention your disappointment at not being accepted. You might even let them know this is your first choice school. At this stage, they will believe such a claim since if it weren't your first choice school, you would not bother to write an essay.
  2. Mention your recent accomplishments / activities that will impress the admissions committee. Maybe you improved your GPA or led a successful business team. Maybe you volunteered as a big brother or started a business. Mentioning these things can only help your case, particularly if you make the wait-list letter consistent with your first personal statement. Admissions officers will reevaluate your whole application before admitting you off the wait list.
  3. Realize the school did not accept you for a reason. You are wait-listed because they saw a small weakness in your application. Perhaps you had a low test score or inadequate extracurricular activities. Without mentioning your weakness, mention things that strengthen your application and eliminate a perceived weakness.
  4. Let them know you are serious about attending the school and can provide additional references, information, etc.
Whatever you do, don't write more than 1.5 pages. These admissions officers read hundreds to thousands of essays and don't want to see information repeated in a wait-list letter. Send a letter every 3 - 4weeks. It never hurts to include another strong letter of recommendation as well.

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Filed Under: Education
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