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Are Waiting Lists Out of Control?

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert Posts: 2,731 Senior Member
"Should colleges have waiting lists with more names than make up a class of new students? Open letter to colleges calls practice cruel and says insanity needs to stop.'" ...

https://www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2018/04/02/colleges-and-high-schools-again-debate-use-waiting-lists-admissions
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Replies to: Are Waiting Lists Out of Control?

  • epiphanyepiphany Registered User Posts: 8,438 Senior Member
    Agree, agree, agree. This whole process is becoming gargantuan and thus inefficient, to say the least.
  • ninakatarinaninakatarina Registered User Posts: 1,411 Senior Member
    edited April 3
    The one number we are missing from all of those stories is, how many students who were offered a spot on the waitlist accepted that spot? I have to assume that colleges only offer waitlist to kids they would love to have the space to admit, and those kids are highly likely to have gotten direct admissions somewhere else.

    How many posts have I read in the last week saying, "You waitlisted me? Screw you, I'm going to (second choice college) and when I'm a billionaire you'll be sorry."

    HYPSM can probably assume that a high percentage of kids that they offer waitlist to will accept the offer and still be willing to ditch their second choice college in May or June if chosen for admission. But go down half a tier and a kid who was waitlisted at, say, Brown probably got an offer for a college on an equal selectivity, or has been offered impressive merit at a very good school lower down on the USNWR rankings..
  • GMC2918GMC2918 Registered User Posts: 912 Member
    I agree that the waitlists have reached insanity levels.

    However, in the examples that @ninakatarina mentions above, wouldn't the candidate just decline the waitlist if they have a better offer? My D received four (!) waitlists. She declined two, and is waiting on the other two. The remaining favorites require that updated transcripts / academic accomplishments be sent along with a "letter of continued interest" and another recommendation letter. So I would assume that only the candidates who are serious about the school would go through that effort.

    Also we are FP, which means that we can afford to wait. I recognize that consideration of FA and opportunity for merit is heavily impacted by waitlists, which adds another wrench into an already cruel process $-wise.
  • GMC2918GMC2918 Registered User Posts: 912 Member
    Some of the WLs that we've seen STILL end up with 1000's of kids, even after others have declined. For the random sample that I looked into, roughly half of the WL candidates opt to stay on the list.
  • evergreen5evergreen5 Registered User Posts: 1,143 Senior Member
    To hedge against increasing uncertainty in admission, students expand their college lists. To hedge against increasing uncertainty in yield, colleges expand their waitlists.

    It's interesting that BC is cited in the article because BC's class of 2021 is overenrolled by 100+ students. Housing is an issue - plans for housing 100+ extra sophomores for next year are still ongoing, if I understand correctly (using freshman housing - but where will they put 100+ class of 2022 freshmen? more triples?). If the article's data is accurate, that BC took 100 kids off the waitlist last year, perhaps there wasn't expected summer melt? From watching the discussions here at CC, I didn't think they'd taken more than a handful. I confess I don't understand how that works except that there is yet more uncertainty involved. Somewhere along the way, yield was underestimated, either in the admissions season itself or over the summer. The natural reaction to overenrollment in the case of BC was to admit 800 fewer students for 2022. Accordingly, I'd have to assume a sizeable waitlist for 2022. I'm in no position to opine that 5000 kids on a waitlist is too many and imagine that many accepted off the waitlist are likely to say no.
  • billcshobillcsho Registered User Posts: 18,405 Senior Member
    For most students at most schools, WL is nothing more than rejection. One should just treated it as rejection. If something happens at the end, that would be a nice surprise. Do not put any hope into it.
  • UndercrackersUndercrackers Registered User Posts: 717 Member
    D was offered a spot on the wait list for U of Chicago a couple of years ago. We really didn't hold much stock in her getting off of it. After evaluating her actual acceptances, she withdrew her name. It's sort of like holding a lottery ticket waiting for the draw. You know in your heart that your chances are slim to none to win the jackpot, but it's still fun to dream for that little while. And for those lucky few, there will be a pay day.
  • indigoblue2002indigoblue2002 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    I think many waitlists are unrealistically long! It's not fair to students to string them out if their acceptance is virtually impossible.
  • psywarpsywar Registered User Posts: 716 Member
    Princeton is pretty bad for deferrals and waitlists IMO. I do think it is the soft rejection of legacies that make up a large portion of the numbers. Agree best way forward to have GC educate students on waitlists, since colleges seem additicted to big waitlists.

    According to Princeton’s latest common data set (published 2016-17):

    Number of qualified applicants offered a place on waiting list
    1237

    Number accepting a place on the waiting list
    840

    Number of wait-listed students admitted
    18

    Horrible...
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