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5 Things Not to Do When You’re on the Waitlist

1) Don’t give up. While it’s important to be realistic about your low chances, don’t give up if you want to attend a school that has waitlisted you. A decision may feel distant, but it’s worth staying focused and doing what you can.

2) Don’t send too many letters/emails. Sending letters is one way you can help your waitlist chances. Too many, however, can do more harm than good. Send no more than one letter/email every two weeks. Too much correspondence will annoy admissions officers. They haven’t forgotten your application. They’re busy, and are either already working on their waitlist decisions or are waiting to hear back from all those who were accepted. Finally, too many letters will make you seem desperate.

3) Don’t visit in person. Visiting the campus is fine; it’s a great way to get a better sense of how much you want to attend. Just don’t drop by the admissions office and try to talk yourself into a spot. Admissions officers like to do things their own way, and at their own pace, and will not have time to see you. Letters are enough to assure them that you want a spot and to give them any updates.

4) Don’t send gifts, or packages of any kind. Believe it or not, this does happen. I suppose most people don’t mind receiving a fruit basket, but a busy dean of admissions may be the exception. Besides the fact that they don’t need the hassle, a gift offends the ideal of objectivity and fairness that guides every admissions officer. They don’t want to accept you because of pineapple; they want to accept you on their own terms and in as fair a manner as possible.

5) Don’t forget to accept one of your offers by May 1st. You can and should hold out some small hope of being accepted from a waitlist, but in the meantime you need a backup plan. Accept the best offer you’ve already received and plan to attend this second choice. If you’re accepted from the waitlist at your top choice, you’ll have to forfeit the deposit you paid to your second choice to make the switch, but at least you won’t end up with zero options.

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