This is the season when colleges and universities are offering spurned applicants spots on their wait lists. I wanted to share this post that I wrote last year about wait lists. I have updated the wait list statistics for the University of Notre Dame. Lynn O’Shaughnessy
This weekend I heard from old friends who wanted to share with me stories of brilliant students who got shut out of elite universities.
At a party on Friday night, a former colleague of my husband’s mentioned that he was stunned that his son’s friend didn’t get into Stanford University. The boy is a stellar student and he only missed two or three answers on the SAT. He is a gifted jazz musician and throughout the party we were listening to an amazing recording of his jazz quartet.
Yesterday a dear friend in Maryland told me about a young man she knew who was rejected by Johns Hopkins University and some Ivy League schools. This young man has been doing research at Johns Hopkins during his summer vacations and his extracurriculars were just as long and impressive as the kid from San Diego.
“Can you believe that this boy got rejected from all these schools?” my friend asked. I think I startled her when I said, “I’m not surprised. In fact, I would have been shocked if he got in.”
I am always amazed that brilliant children and their often accomplished parents have a disconnect when it comes to their admission expectations. When they look at Stanford’s admission rate of 6.6%, they don’t seem to think it applies to them. If anybody can explain this, I’d love to hear it.
The plight, if you can call it that, of these teenagers reminded me of the post that I wrote earlier this month:
Trying to Beat the Wait List Odds
I’m bringing this up today because many of these students who aimed too high are now hoping against hope that they will be plucked off the wait list of their dream college(s). I heard from one of these teenagers last week who wanted advice on how to get off the wait list of the University of Notre Dame.
I am equally surprised that students who unfortunately aimed too high think they can get lucky on the wait list. My advice to them is simple: Forget it. Move on and be happy with one of the schools that does want to see you in their freshman class.
Finding a School’s Wait List Statistics
To show you the futility of being on a wait list, let’s look at the odds. You can find the wait list odds of any school by heading to the College Board’s website. Type in the name of any school and when you are directed to its profile, click on its Applying hyperlink.
Here are Notre Dame’s wait list stats:
Wait List Overkill
As you can see, the number of applicants offered a spot on Notre Dame’s waiting list was more than the number of students in the eventual freshman class! Of the 2,461 students offered a place on the wait list, 1,153 accepted, but the school plucked just 86 from the list.
The previous year at Notre Dame 951 rejected students accepted a place on the wait list, but only seven were eventually offered spots.
This wait-list overkill is all too common. Many schools put an obscene number of students on the wait list.
Why do schools place so many kids on their waiting list when there is little to no chance of getting off of them? Because they can.
Their callous business decision isn’t going to discourage tons of students from applying the next year. Schools use their wait lists as a way to manage their admission yield. They also turn to the wait list as a way to reject students without completely demoralizing them.
What I find sad is that so many students are pinning their hopes on suitors that have spurned them. This prevents these teenagers from getting psyched for their grand adventure at whatever colleges they end up attending. And that’s a shame.