Do you have to wait for the waitlist?


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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3 Responses

  1. Dean Flagel,
    If there is something I would like to ask you, yet it does not pertain to the original posting, would you have me post it in a different area or is that ok with you. Thanks.
    I also wanted to thank you for passing my appeal to Eddy Talent, I believe that is who you sent it to. I highly appreciate all of your help….Thank you.

  2. my son Michael Hughes id# 00548866. has been notified of his wait list status. He did all the footwork on applying. He wants so badly to go to GMU. We visited a couple months ago. at freshman invite day.so Met with enviromental science proffessors.He was the one that spoke up proudly how he loves all that was presented.And which is only presentee thier. He made a deal with his father- a father who has no faithh in him-again!- Michael has always know what he wanted to be since 3 yrs. old. This will leade to the geeen jobs.What our country needs for the future if the U.S is to succeed.
    It’s almost 2:00 am I pray for miricles. My son needs this. Our family needs this. Or I need to talk/e-mail spmeone who can give advice to my son who wants more from this life than I or his father can give. He is special!!!! He has a great mind that is down as i have ever seen him
    Please someone Help us.

  3. my son xxxxxxxx[edited for privacy]. has been notified of his wait list status. He did all the footwork on applying. He wants so badly to go to GMU. We visited a couple months ago at freshman invite day. Met with environmental science professors.He was the one that spoke up proudly how he loves all that was presented.And which is only present their. He made a deal with his father- a father who has no faith in him-again!- Michael has always know what he wanted to be since 3 yrs. old. This will lead to the green jobs.What our country needs for the future if the U.S is to succeed.
    It’s almost 2:00 am I pray for miracles. My son needs this. Our family needs this. We need to talk/e-mail someone who can give advice to my son who wants more from this life than I or his father can give.He only applied to GMU,The school that has the classes he needs to be that environmental/climate change/meteorological sciences He is special!!!! He has a great mind that is down as i have ever seen him
    Please someone Help us.

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