Pam Proctor's Blog

...Pam Proctor’s clients have been admitted to such colleges as: Amherst, Harvard, Cornell, Wesleyan, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame,  Georgetown, Bowdoin, Davidson, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Williams, Columbia, Vanderbilt, Tufts, Georgia Tech, SMU, Wheaton (IL), Case Western Reserve, Purdue, Elon, Clemson, University of Florida, Miami University of Ohio, U Colorado Boulder, University of Miami, Colorado College, Penn State, Tulane, Boston College, Rutgers, College of Charleston, University of Maryland, University of Georgia, Juniata, University of New Hampshire, Baylor, Florida State, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, George Washington University, Northwestern, William and Mary, Vassar, MIT, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, Emory, Santa Clara University, New York University, Bates, Wellesley, Washington University in St. Louis, Colby, University of Southern California, Washington & Lee, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Union College, Trinity College, Boston University, Pitzer, University of Maryland, Mount Holyoke College, Villanova, and accelerated medical programs…


How to Work the Wait List

by Pam Proctor, Author of The College Hook

What do you do if your dream schools -- or maybe even four or five of your top choices -- relegate you to that no-man’s land known as the wait list?

You can allow yourself a little time for a pity-party, but do NOT roll over and play dead. Now’s the time to start “working” the wait list.

But why bother? you protest. It’s hopeless.

The numbers do seem daunting: This year, 1472 students were wait-listed at Princeton, 1001 at Yale, and 789 at Stanford. Last year, the wait list hit 2988 at Cornell, 2400 at Penn, 5025 at Carnegie Mellon, and a whopping 7,888 at Texas A& M., according to The New York Times. But, dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that typically fewer than half of the students offered a place on wait lists choose to remain on the list, significantly increasing the chances of admission for those with the grit to keep at it. As of last May, admissions off the wait list ranged from 44 percent at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to 17 percent at Notre Dame, to 16 percent at Princeton, to nine percent at Rice.

Although the odds of getting off the wait list may seem slim, you could be the one whose geography, ethnicity or “hook” -- a special activity, passion or interest -- catches the eye of the admissions committee and fills a gap in the class of 2016.

Waiting won’t be easy. Chances are, most of your friends will simply give up or decide to make the most of the opportunities at the schools to which they’ve been accepted. But if you’re dead-set on attending a college that wait-listed you, here are some simple steps you can take to increase your chances for admission.

  1. Send in the wait list response card immediately. If you’ve been wait-listed at more than one school, send cards to all of them. You might have a better shot at one school than another. Last year, for example, Johns Hopkins accepted only two percent from its wait list, while Middlebury took 15 percent.

  2. Indicate that you want to stay on the wait list indefinitely -- until August or September if necessary. One student whose heart was set on Bowdoin played the waiting game and learned in late June that a place had opened up for her. “I discovered that there were two waiting lists,” she said, “one for May and one for the summer.”

  3. Send an e-mail to the admissions rep in charge of the wait list. At some schools the person in charge of the waiting list may be different from the rep who handles your area of the country or section of the alphabet. All it takes is a phone call to the admissions office to find out who’s in charge.

  4. Send new material that highlights your latest achievements. Include higher SAT or ACT scores, national or state awards, published articles, or a major program you might have initiated in the spring that has made an impact on your community.

  5. Visit the school immediately and try to meet with an admissions rep. Even if you can’t get an appointment in advance, show up anyway. That ploy was successful at Wesleyan, one of the “Little Ivies,” where a wait-listed student happened to visit the school on a day for admitted students. “It was awkward,” he confessed. Yet unperturbed, he boldly walked into the admissions office and talked his way into an interview. A few weeks later, he got a call from the director of admissions offering him a spot in the class.

  6. Offer to defer your admission until fall of 2013. It’s not uncommon for some colleges to admit students -- particularly legacies -- on the condition that they take a gap year. If you’re willing to wait, let the college know it.

  7. Don’t forget to put down a deposit by May 1 at your top choice from among the schools where you’ve been admitted. While you’re at it, find three things you love about the school that chose YOU, and start picturing yourself succeeding there.


...Read Pam’s latest book The College Hook, Second Edition: Packaging Yourself to Win the College Admissions Game, now in a new updated e-book edition for Kindle and Nook...