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Why are so many students wait listed this year?

TrasnparencyTrasnparency 0 replies1 threads New Member
I think there several dynamics at play this year (more so than in prior years).

1 - Colleges are admitting larger % of their freshman class from ED and ED II applicants. Many of these top schools are filling approximately 50% of their class, leaving only 50% for all RD applicants. Since more students who can pay full tuition without needing financial aid apply ED, the schools, especially the ones that are need blind and meet full need, can continue to claim they are while admitting more students who can pay full tuition.

2 - Due to the Common App and the uncertainty of admission to selective colleges, students are applying to more schools than ever. Could it be that the same students are accepted by most of the top 20 schools? Perhaps. If yields drop relative to prior years, this may prove to be true. To protect their yield, it is also possible that schools are admitting fewer RD students where it is uncertain if they will enroll, and more are placed on waitlists. Depending on how many from the RD pool enroll, they may be able to tap students from their waitlist who are genuinely interested in attending. This will ensure that they protect their yield, while enjoying record applications. Also, they can be much more selective in the types of students they pick from the waitlist, i.e. those who can pay the full tuition.

Why are school doing this? Self preservation and higher rankings on US News and World Report.

1 - Higher yield rates translate to higher rankings
2 - Lower overall acceptance rate results in higher rankings
3 - Continue to claim to be Need Blind in decisions and Meet Full Need, when in fact you are using a loophole to admit more students who can pay full tuition by resorting to ED and Waitlists. This translates to higher rankings and reduces the political pressure from politicians as to why college costs what it costs and why costs increase so much each year
4 - More students who can pay full fare means less need to tap into their endowment for financial aid and a healthier endowment. Which also translates to higher rankings. Usually there is a direct correlation between larger per student endowment and higher rankings. Also, over time, schools where the endowment is rising also rise in rankings and those where the endowment is dropping also drop in rankings.
5 - A number of schools have eliminated the supplementary essay and SAT II requirements, which also translated into considerably more applications this year, which again translates to higher rankings.

For many of these selective schools, look at their admitted student stats on Collegedata.com. You will notice that more students from Private schools with lower stats are admitted than from Public schools. Private schools students are far more likely to be in a position to pay full tuition than students from public schools.

I would love to hear about the experience of others.
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Replies to: Why are so many students wait listed this year?

  • SouthernHopeSouthernHope 2078 replies209 threads Senior Member
    One thing I haven't seen this year is whether the increase in wait list is truly an increase or whether we just all feel like it's happening. From my perspective (as a parent), it feels that way with my 2nd kid (a senior now) vs the 1st kid. In my DS case, I think he might be getting waitlisted because schools really like him as a candidate (terrific ECs, great recommendations, etc) but his scores are too low for them and they're worried it'll mess up their rankings if they give exceptions to too many kids. By putting him on the wait list, they can consider accepting him later and not have those stats count against the PR newsletters that they all send out (at XX College, we're proud to announce that we're admitting our most competitive class yet with an average yada yada SAT and yada yada GPA). But I could be wrong about this.

    What I"m right about is that wait lists are a special kind of prison....my kid is excited because his top 2 schools wait listed him instead of rejecting....but I know that its really more of a wind-down rejection....
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 threads Senior Member
    edited March 2017
    @snarlatron: I think a lot of kids are ill-served by adults (GCs/parents/relatives/teachers) who's knowledge of college admissions may be a decade or more out of date telling their high-stats super-acheiving kid (the likes of whom they may see at their school only once every half-decade or so) that they are surely going to an Ivy.
    edited March 2017
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  • akin67akin67 179 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Many students and parents are basing their chances of acceptance to highly selective schools on published statistics and from sites such as Parchment, Naviance and Collegedata. If they fall in the 25% - 75% range of stats for admitted students they are assuming they have a realistic shot. If you are a minority/disadvantaged student, recruited athlete, legacy, are from a remote and not populous state, have an exceptional talent or activity, won a national award, applied early decision, or don't need financial aid, this is a relatively accurate assessment. However, if you are a white, Asian or international student, need financial aid, or are from a state close to the school, you pretty much need to have stats that are in the top 25% of admitted students for many of these schools, to stand a real chance acceptance.

    If colleges and universities published acceptance statistics for these different groups, students and parents would have a more realistic assessment of where they can and cannot get accepted. Publishing granular statistics does not serve the colleges' desire to get a maximum number of applications. In fact many colleges purchase student SAT data from the College Board and bombard students with letters and brochures to apply. For example my children had no shot of being accepted to the University of Chicago, and they had to know that from their SAT scores, yet we got bombarded with letters encouraging them to apply.

    Perhaps some parents and students do have unrealistic assessment of their chances, but more often than not, colleges and universities are also contributing to this false sense of hope. I don't disagree with colleges and universities having different standards for different groups of students or even one based on the students' ability to pay. We live in the real world and no one has unlimited resources. Ability to pay, economic and social diversity can all play a role. I just wish that they published the information in a more granular manner so that students and parents can better assess their chances of admittance and apply accordingly. Also, if they defer or waitlist students, again they should inform them how many were deferred or waitlisted in that year as well as in prior years and how many of those being wait listed or deferred were ultimately admitted.
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  • collegefan101collegefan101 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @akin67 I agree that colleges are somewhat to blame for encouraging (or, not discouraging) too many students to apply with a very low likelihood of admission. But the information is out there - for example, if you want to find the number of wait listed students that were later offered admission, google the particular school and "common data set" and you will get the information you are seeking. The reality is that with US News and other rankings still driving this process, students and their parents need to be much more thorough in their review. Many high schools simply do not have the resources to properly advise their students on how to navigate the college search process. I have found much of the necessary information can be found through CC, which is encouraging.
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  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston 14917 replies1010 threads Senior Member
    And the posts from waitlisted/denied students who are furious that other students from their high school that they know are inferior to them were admitted.
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  • akin67akin67 179 replies8 threads Junior Member
    @collegfan101 The information is incomplete at best. Total waitlist numbers and how many were admitted are published, but do they indicate how many are students who need financial aid? Also, so many parents are too uninformed to be of any assistance to their children. It would be very easy for schools to inform students of their chance of admittance in the letter the schools send to students informing of their waitlist or deferral decision. Also, if a student is deferred, the school provides the student with absolutely no insight as to what aspect of their application is weak or in need of improvement to enhance their chance of being admitted in the regular decision pool.
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  • OrangeMom28OrangeMom28 11 replies0 threads New Member
    As parents we always push our kids to work hard and try their best, college applications included. Most middle class families who do not qualify for fee waivers are spending upwards of $1k on applications hoping for the best. Now that I am done, I would advise future parents (Asians and Caucasians) not to repeat what we did. Unless you have exceptional stats, I mean perfect everything, gpa, standardized scores, lots of ECs plus sports, don't bother applying to the Ivies, or top 20 unless you apply No financial aid. Most colleges claim they are need blind but I don't believe it.

    Also, if you have STEM child, apply under a different major, social, arts, design, something liberal. Essays on what you care about and who you are... don't write anything about yourself and your family, but instead write about caring for the society and who you are, write How society influenced you. Write about energy independence, diseases, or any liberal related events. Look at the kid who answered Black Lives Matter 100 times in his essay and got into Stanford.

    Don't expect Admission simply based on stats, I'd say save your money and apply in-state. Do extremely well and look instead to grad school. We just dug ourselves out of the Rejected/Waitlist pit this week. There was a lot of bitterness and loss of confidence as well as increased doubt of who we are, ethnicity wise. I wouldn't wish the experience on future applicants.

    We are now very happy with our selection. My D has received so many emails from her selected schools. Invites to overnights, meals, etc. She's bounced back and is happy go lucky again
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  • HRSMomHRSMom 4605 replies50 threads Senior Member
    The WL issue seems to get worse each year as the application bubble balloons. Will it burst and kids go back to a reasonable # of apps? Who knows. There is ZERO reason to apply to every top 20 school. None. Broad net for FA does not even require that! Yet SO many kids blanket that top 20! And then get back 10 rejects and 10 WLs and wonder why?

    If I offer the Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes, BMW dealers, etc, below mkt value for a car, do I think if I ask them all, at least one might say yes?
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  • PostmodernPostmodern 1160 replies91 threads Senior Member
    I believe the OP's question was "Why are so many students wait listed this year?", and the post discusses the specific goals and policies of the universities. I am not sure why it has again devolved into an opportunity to dump on applicants. Is that necessary?
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  • elguapo1elguapo1 441 replies3 threads Member
    Have realistic expectations. 2 x D in college, between them 11 applications. 8 acceptances, 2 waitlist and one withdrawl. It really isn't difficult if you do your homework and don't obsess over brand rather than fit.
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