This post is in response to the emails we’ve been getting from students asking us for advice about what to do if they’re placed on the transfer waitlist. Here are some strategies to give your application a boost and relieve some of your stress.
Gather information: For your own peace of mind, gather information. Politely call the admission office to find out how many applicants are on the list and if the college ranks wait-listed students or if it has a priority list. The higher you rank on the list the better your chances of being accepted. Understand that some colleges will not give you any information. Brown University, for example, will not tell you how many students are on the list and the university also doesn’t rank its wait-listed applicants.
Respond to the school: Some schools require that wait-listed applicants send them notification that they would like to remain active on the list. If the school sends you a commitment card or a similar document, be sure to reply to the school.
Write a letter: Write a letter and email it to the dean of admission and Cc it to the office of admission general email address. Begin by thanking the office of admission for their time and consideration. In the letter, include something along the lines of this: “If removed from the waitlist and admitted to X University, I will definitely attend the university.” It’s important to send your personal letter as soon as you can and say that you will definitely enroll if you’re accepted because the school wouldn’t want to “waste” an offer on someone who chose the school only as a back-up. Include anything new that wasn’t in your transfer application, such as updates on achievements, awards, and extra-curricular activities. If you landed a summer internship or job, include that, too. End by succinctly explaining why you want to go to that school, pointing out the match of your character and objectives to the school’s program, educational approach, and community.
Send additional credentials: Depending on the school, consider sending additional credentials. Use your discretion in taking this approach because bombarding the school with too much unsolicited information might backfire. Assuming that you applied to transfer the following fall, additional credentials you might send include your spring semester transcript and one recommendation letter from a professor who taught you in the spring.
Even after taking all of these steps, much of the process is still out of your control. Schools generally wait to see what their freshmen and transfer enrollment numbers are before admitting students on the transfer waitlist. Regardless of what happens, you should be proud that you’ve made it this far. If you’ve just finished your freshman year and didn’t get into your first choice school, you can stay at your current school and try applying again during the next application season.