How do wait-lists work?

What is a Wait List?

If you have been notified by a college that you are on the wait list this means that the school has decided that you are eligible to attend the school but that they have already accepted too many students and there is no room for you. Don’t give up hope yet! Colleges regularly accept more students than they expect to actually accommodate at the school. Most students apply to several schools, get accepted to a few, and then choose one, meaning that they will not attend all those other schools. Ending up on a wait list means that if somebody else decides not to go to the college, you will be offered a place. There is no guarantee that you will be given this opportunity, but at least you have a chance. As spaces at a school open up in the spring, schools will often take people off the wait list in stages, by first offering places to the most attractive of the wait-listed candidates. If more seats open up, they will give definite offers to another round of wait-listed students.

What Happens if You Have Been Wait-Listed at One College but Accepted by Another?

If you have been wait-listed by one school but accepted by another and you really want to go to the school where you got wait-listed, does this mean that you have tell the college that accepted you that you don’t want to go there? This seems like an agonizing decision! Actually, there is not much agony here. Of course, being on a wait list is no guarantee that you will actually be given a place at the school. So, it is perfectly acceptable to tell another school that has said yes to you that you intend to go there. At the same time, you are allowed to tell the school that put you on a wait list that you would like to go to that school too if they give you an offer. The school that accepted you will probably ask you to pay a deposit. Later on, if the school that put you on the wait list gives you a definite offer, you can accept the offer, but you will lose your deposit with the first school. So, the worst-case scenario is that you will lose the deposit to the school that first offered you a definite place.

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