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by Vault Education Editors | May 06, 2009


Mid-April is here, and while most of the adultworld has just gotten over the stress of submitting their taxes, themajority of high school seniors are anxiously awaiting what used to befat envelopes in the mail (these days, admissions decisions are moreoften than not conveyed in the form of an email).

Waiting for these letters (electronic or paper)can be extremely stressful, but it's important to remember that you'redown to the home stretch of the process. At this point, you'll eitherreceive an acceptance letter, a rejection letter or a notification thatyou've been waitlisted. Obviously, the ideal situation is to have beenaccepted to several schools that you can see yourself attend.

If this best case scenario comes true, you'lldefinitely want to take this time to visit all of the schools to whichyou've been accepted so you can make an accurate decision about whereyou'll be happiest. Most schools will have "admit weekends" forprospective freshmen and they normally pull out all the stops to lurestudents to enroll. Try to attend as many of these events as possible,as the students, faculty and staff will all be on hand to show you thebest time imaginable and answer any questions you might have about theschool. You'll quickly realize that the tables have surely turned andthat you are no longer trying to woo the school to admit you, butinstead the school is trying to attract you now (it's certainly a muchbetter feeling!).

If you've been placed on the waitlist at yourdream school, but have been admitted to other schools on your list,you're in a tough spot because you really do not want to miss thedeadline to enroll at a school while waiting to hear back from thewaitlist. The first thing to do is pick your No. 2 school—the one youlike most from the fallbacks to which you've been accepted (a decisionyou made when you visited all of their campuses and attended theiradmit weekends)—and enroll to ensure that you'll have a place at auniversity come the fall. However, if you have your heart set on theschool at which you've been waitlisted, there are definitely things youcan do to increase your chances of acceptance.

It's really important to realize that only anextremely small number of students get accepted off the waitlist—but itcan happen. You need to convey to the admissions officers just howeager you are to attend their school. Last year, one of my students wasaccepted off the waitlist at the University of Georgia because shetruly worked for that acceptance. Below are some ideas for things youcan do to get off the waitlist:

Ace your exams

A lot of high school seniors allow senioritis toset during the spring of their senior years and slack off a bit intheir classes. While this is not recommended for anyone, it's less of abig deal for students who have already been accepted to theirtop-choice schools. If you're trying to get off a waitlist, it'simperative to maintain a solid GPA, if not exceed your previoussemester's GPA to show the school your continued commitment to academicexcellence.

Apply for awards

Most high schools and communities offerscholarships and awards for exceptional students to reward them fortheir hard work throughout their high school careers. While theapplications usually take some work, as they often require one or moreessays, it can make a huge difference in your application and the extrawork will usually pay off.

Plan for the summer

While most students spend the summer after theirsenior years relaxing, traveling or spending time with friends, it is agood idea to take the opportunity to do something worthwhile to add toyour activity sheet. Community service is always a good option, but ifyou can find an internship or even a summer job, those are greatoptions, as well.

Contact the school

I know you're probably thinking that you'll seemlike a pest if you continuously contact your dream school, but it isreally important to make a personal connection with someone in theadmissions office to let him or her know just how badly you want to gothere. Write a letter and/or email expressing your continued commitmentand updating them on your activities, grades and summer plans.Definitely have your guidance counselor get in touch with theadmissions office as well to let them know your conviction. I wouldn'tnormally recommend having parents get involved, but in the case ofgetting off the waitlist, a call or email from a parent is appropriate.Lastly, you also might want to consider sending additional letters ofrecommendation. If you know an alumnus/a from the school who would bewilling to write a letter on your behalf, definitely approach him orher to do so, as those letters will carry more weight with the school.

Most importantly, this is an extremely excitingtime of your life, so enjoy it and really learn as much as possibleabout the school before committing to it.

As always, for more advice on the admissions process and standardized testing issues, visit The Edge online at or call us today at (877) 499-EDGE to inquire about our current programs.


Filed Under: Education|Grad School

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