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How do I handle the Waitlist process?

Whenever a student comes to me with a dilemma, I do my best to put myself in their shoes— at the same time, I take into consideration all of the information and experiences I’ve gained over the years. Now, dilemmas in 2020 are a little different for everyone, as we are all facing a fair amount of uncertainty as far as what comes next—particularly with regard to education. It’s why I do just want to take a moment to commend this particular generation of young people for showing resilience, character, and mental toughness in more ways that we often appreciate. That being said, a number of seniors are also facing another tough question: where am I going to live next year? Parts of that question are rooted in whether or not college campuses open in the fall, whether students need to accept a new reality where they’re learning remotely from home during their Freshman year, or perhaps they choose to pursue a gap year. However, there are also a number of students who are even more uncertain: waitlist candidates.

As of May 1st, though sooner in some cases, universities began personally reaching out to students on their waitlist to get a better feel on the student’s chances of saying “Yes” to an admissions officer. Getting that opportunity is naturally an accomplishment and a reason to be excited, but it can also come with a catch. The school may ask for an immediate confirmation of attendance, so that they can confirm the number towards enrollment. Depending on the student’s overall feeling of the school, as well as how they feel about compared to another potential school on the waitlist, that pressure of answering on the spot can be a lot to handle. It’s important to make sure that parents are around for these conversations, as a student shouldn’t have to commit to anywhere unless they are fully ready to. Which begs the question: can I say “Yes” to School A, and then wait to hear from School B and potentially change my mind? It’s definitely a predicament for everyone involved. The student wants the benefit of optionality, the university either wants confirmed enrollment or the chance to move onto another waitlist candidate that may say yes, and then there’s also the high school that has to consider how our student’s decision (or change of decision) might impact its relationship with the university in question AND other potential students who may be affected by how things unfold. At the end of the day, it can be tough to balance a decision that will ultimately affect you the most, and potentially affect some of your peers; but, when it comes to the college decision and setting up future ambitions, maybe it’s one of those times where we can’t fault a young person for thinking a little more in their own self-interest.

Coronavirus Leaves Students and Colleges Playing Waiting Game - Wall Street Journal