What Should I do if I am Placed on a Grad School Waiting List?

Students who are told that they are on a grad school waiting list are often confused about what the next steps should be. Most of the time, they’re not sure what a wait list is and if they even have a chance to get into the program. This article will discuss what a wait list is, how admissions committees view potential candidates, and what those candidates can do on their own to prepare for admission or rejection.

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What is a Wait List?

A grad school waiting list is a list filled with qualified candidates that have yet to be fully admitted or rejected from the program. It is a product of a degree program that has many qualified candidates and the need to ensure that the first round of applicants has time to either accept or reject an offer of admission. As U.S. News and World Report indicates in their article on the subject, waitlist applicants have a good chance to get into the program but must wait until the first round of students make their decision; schools understand that students apply to various schools and may not accept an offer of admission, so after the first round of admissions, there may be spots available in the program.

Prepare for Feedback or Questions

A student that finds themselves on a waitlist is in a good position for admission into the program. However, the admissions committee may have questions about the student’s application or may require more information prior to making their final decision. Students should be prepared for this, as follow-up interviews and requests for more documents are common. It is generally advised that students comply with any request from the committee during the waitlist process. If feedback is delivered, candidates are encouraged to be professional about it. If the committee indicates that an address of the feedback from the student would be welcome, the candidate should think about the concerns outlined and tackle them head-on in the letter that demonstrates both professionalism and an understanding of the issues and how they would be handled in an academic setting.

Follow Recommendations

Many schools will offer recommendations to students who are wait-listed; this is normally a set of suggestions that may include a letter addressing feedback, a personal essay, a follow-up interview, and more. Serious candidates should take on these recommendations as soon as they are presented; the immediate response will demonstrate to the admissions committee that the candidate is willing to do extra work to prove their interest in the program. While it is advised that students ask if there are any recommendations to strengthen their application, they must also restrain themselves from delving too deep in creative projects for their application; gifts such as flowers and candy are not recommended and consistent calls to the admissions department may prove to be counterintuitive.

Wait for a Final Decision

The hardest part of the waitlist process is the waiting. However, students must move through the process, short or long, as best they can. They must also prepare themselves for the decision that comes down at the end of the process. A final acceptance or rejection is the end result, so students must prepare themselves for either outcome; this includes gauging academic options should a rejection come forward or rearranging their schedule in the event they are accepted into the program.

Consider Other Schools

For students who are more interested in grad school than the program that they have been wait-listed for, it might be a good idea to consider other schools from their application process during the process. Schools have different features and options, making it possible for a wait-listed student to change their minds and attend a school they have already been accepted into. In many cases, the wait list process provides them with the time to review individual programs in more depth and can lead to a change in plans. If this occurs, students should contact the school that they are on the waitlist for and withdraw their application.

Graduate school is an incredible opportunity for professionals, both for academic and professional reasons. However, the actual process of being on a waitlist can be anxiety-inducing for most students. This article provides tips and advice on how to move forward with the process. Most students on a grad school waiting list will benefit from trying at least one tip while waiting for their acceptance letter.