I was recently interviewed by US News and World Report about whether this year will be different for colleges and universities dealing with waitlists. The reporter believed that the terrible economy would change student choices, and the uncertain atmosphere would make waitlists more complicated.
Colleges have been complaining a lot about all this uncertainty. Many of you applied to more schools than ever before, got admitted to lots of places, and are depositing at more than one school as you continue to consider your options. As a result, colleges have indicated they will have larger waitlists, and may wait longer to let you know whether or not you have any chance of getting in off the waitlist.
The reporter wanted to know if I had any students do anything outrageous to get in off the waitlist, like helicoptering in to beg for attention, or showering the office with cookies. The truth is, I’ve seen quite a few outlandish schemes to get attention, but none that I know of have worked. The reason is simple – the minute I admit a student because they rode their unicycle across the country in a tribute to Mason, I’ll have 200 one-wheeled idiots storming the campus.
I know it sounds crazy, since this process has so much inherent unfairness, but I, and I believe most of my colleagues, do try to keep the process as fair as we can. That means that when students appeal, I need to have those appeals carefully reviewed by the admissions committee. That means I need to see if we have space. If we do have space, I need to have the admissions committee carefully evaluate the students that accepted our waitlist offer and then select the best candidates for those positions.
On another thread in this blog you’ll find that a student bravely shared his information in an attempt to bring his great accomplishments to my attention and further his admission appeal. He succeeded, and I’m impressed with his creativity, his tenacity, and his desire to be at Mason (plus his good taste in blogs). And I add that I don’t know of another case in admissions of appeal by blog. I’ll share what he sent with the admission committee and I wish him great success. Ultimately, however, none of that will guarantee that he will have a better chance of being admitted than anyone else in the pool.
So do you have to wait? You don’t and you shouldn’t. I’ve said it before and will again – there are hundreds, thousands, of great schools, including an amazing array of community college options. Your best influence on getting off the waitlist is surely to tell the school how much you want to go there, and to share any new evidence of your qualifications – but just as important I advise you to find other options that will help you on your path even if you don’t ever budge that waitlist decision. Your success is not in the hands of us evil, unfeeling, and shallow admissions officers. Thankfully, it’s in yours. Be seeing you.
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