On Being Waitlisted By Your "Dreams"

By Aparajita 2021-04-09

You’ve come a long way since you first set your sights on the hallowed grounds of your chosen college. In the months preceding “Ivy Day,” your longing to belong to your “dream” college has only magnified. Why should it not? You’ve worked so hard. You’ve done your very best to secure the perfect home for yourself in the coming four years. But, at the very moment when you expected for its gates to be flung wide in welcome, they creak open halfway. You’ve been waitlisted.

Myriad questions ricochet in your mind. The two most prominent ones: are you not good enough for X college? Is there a point in demonstrating continued interest?

Let’s explore.

First things first, let’s face it. Being waitlisted is definitely many similes of “saddening.” But, it is better than being rejected. It means that you’re still in the game. And this may well be your very last shot to prove yourself. Hold on to that fighting spirit cuz you’re really going to need it!

Putting a candidate on the waitlist is the school’s way of showing that they do see a spark in you, but you’re not quite there yet. You may have an application that is solid but needs to pack more punch. In other words, the institution needs more information about you to make a final decision.

If this is the one school that you truly wish to attend, grasp this opportunity to show consistent growth in your profile (yes, despite the rigors of the essay season). This tenacity could significantly better your chances of getting off the waitlist!

Here are some things to keep in mind for your Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI):

  • Prove that X college is definitely your first preference and you would surely attend if given another chance.

  • Show that you are truly X college material. If you were not required to write a “Why X College” essay before, weave in aspects of it into your LOCI. In fact, go one up and demonstrate that you’re even better than before by showing that you have -

    • Furthered your extracurricular endeavors

    • Improved or maintained solid academic performance

    • Won notable accolades that add to your profile

    • Taken up new courses, projects, and challenges


Read: An open letter to applicants awaiting regular decision

Always remember that schools want to accept kids who positively want to attend. Like all of us, they love to be cherished and desired. They definitely don’t like being treated as safety options! So, for every LOCI that you write, ensure that you show abundant love for the college by including intimate details about courses, communities, exchange programs, the surrounding neighborhood, etc.

Equally important is the way you frame your LOCI. There are two broad ways of approaching it. You can either structure your letter in a clear-cut, precise fashion or take a creative approach - structuring it in the form of interviews, plays, or poems. Both these approaches have their own merits. Be sure to pick one that best suits the prompt provided by the college and your own strengths. Ask yourself: in a batch of gazillion letters, how can you make yours pop?

Lastly, please don’t let college waitlists shatter your self-esteem. You may very well have done everything in your power to impress the admissions committee, but sometimes you’re just not the best fit for a college, sometimes there are exponentially more applicants than there are seats available, sometimes lady luck’s just not feeling it. Regardless of which school you decide to call home in the fall, remember that you are twice the person you were when you began the application process. Pour generous helpings of that growth into your next LOCI!