There is no doubt that the college admissions process offers students an opportunity to develop the virtue of patience. In most cases, several months pass between the time you’ll hit submit on your application and the moment you’ll receive a decision from your dream school. That wait can already be an excruciating ordeal. But what if, when decisions are released, you find out that you’ve been added to your dream school’s waitlist? Well, receiving such a decision—in which case you’ll probably be honing that aforementioned virtue until you’re set to matriculate—might provide you with some unique opportunities to interact with, and continue to demonstrate keen interest in, your dream school.
So, I received an offer to join the waitlist. Now what?
First and foremost, remember that for all intents and purposes, your dream school has confirmed that you’re qualified to attend said school. There might be a nuanced reason that you’ve been waitlisted. Maybe the school has already accepted too many students from your home state. Or maybe it’s already accepted too many students who share your intended major. So don’t despair. And, as a first order of business, make sure you accept your dream school’s offer to join the waitlist. Respond to the school’s communications in a timely fashion and submit all additional materials they might request of you.
Now that you’ve done that, take some time to continue getting acquainted with the school. Use the additional time to ‘stand out’ to the school in order to demonstrate your true interest in attending. Perhaps the first time around you didn’t visit the school. Perhaps you didn’t sit in on courses. Use this time to do both those things. You may even reach out to professors who you’re interested in working with if you’re admitted. Or try reaching out to a club or a group at your dream school. Attend a meeting or an event. And then—when you write your Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI, for short), allude to your experiences at the school. Don’t forget, as you’re spending your spring break or weekend at the school: admissions officers care about ‘yield protection.’ They want to make offers of admission to students who will actually attend. So if you show them a strong interest in attending their school, you’re more likely to get that offer of admission.
The Letter of Continued Interest
Most universities will allow you the opportunity, if waitlisted, to submit a Letter of Continued Interest. Do take them up on this offer!
There are three main components of a LOCI (though feel free to add more as you see fit!). Continue reading below to see an example of a letter of continued interest:
- Start out by expressing your gratitude to the admissions office. It’s an honor to have been waitlisted.
Dear [Admissions Officer],
Thank you, first and foremost, for offering me a place on [University’s] waitlist. [University] is my dream school and I am honored to have the opportunity to potentially attend [University] in the fall.
- Talk about your continued (and newfound!) interest in the school.
This past week, I had the pleasure of sitting in on [Professor’s] course, [Course name]. In speaking with [Professor], my interest in [University] has only been strengthened. [Professor’s] research in [field] is exactly the sort of research I hope to do as an undergraduate next fall and I know that [University] is a national leader in [field]. While I was on campus, I also stopped by [Club’s] meeting. Seeing the students’ work on [project/initiative/activity] was so cool and I’m sure that I’ll be [Club’s] first sign-up during [University’s] club fair!
- Then, tell the admissions office what you’ve been up to since first submitting your application. Now is your opportunity to provide a bit of a ‘narrative resume’ – an opportunity you hadn’t really gotten much in your initial application. Provide narrative details on how you’ve filled your time in the intervening months.
I also wanted to let you know that since submitting my application, I’ve been elected captain of my high school’s varsity baseball team. And right when the baseball season ends, I’m eager to start working as an intern at a local law firm. Both these opportunities will allow me to continue developing my ability to work as part of a team, whether with peers or with adults. And I’m certain that the leadership skills I’ll learn this spring as baseball team captain will be skills that I’ll take with me to college and beyond.
And, finally, follow the school’s rules. If the school included instructions for submitting a letter of continued interest, make sure you follow those rules first. Send them exactly what they need from you (including updated transcripts, etc.).
To whom do I send my letter?
If you’ve made any connections (whether through tours, alumni interviews, class visits, etc.), be sure to send your LOCI to whomever you’ve previously had contact with at your dream school. This includes perhaps sending a copy to the person who interviewed you, if you had an interview. Do keep your interviewer abreast of your situation—especially if you had a good rapport with your interviewer.
If you haven’t had contact with the admissions office at your dream school, then go ahead and make that connection. Find the admissions officer assigned to you (a simple call to the admissions office can get you this information) and send them your letter. It would be a shame if your letter got stuck in some rarely checked university inbox or mailbox!
Is there anything else that I can do while I’m waiting?
Relax! While it may seem that you can exert control over your dream college’s decision about your application, there are so many factors at play when a college decides to admit/reject/waitlist you. And many of these factors are out of your control. Do be sure to submit a deposit at another school you’d be happy attending in the meantime. And, after you’ve given it the ol’ college try (pun intended!), sit back, relax, and focus on other things—you wouldn’t want to do anything else while on a waitlist. Sometimes the wait can be long.
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About the Author
Peter Klapes is a Boston native and studied philosophy at Boston College, with interests in psychoanalysis, literature, hermeneutics, and continental philosophy. He previously served as Editor-in-Chief of Dianoia and currently manages The Guestbook Project. With a passion for writing, Peter has tutored students and looks forward to helping college-bound students with their admission essays.