College Waitlists in 2022 -- possibilities or pipedreams?

Now that we are just about at the end of the college results season, I am hearing about so many kids who have been waitlisted to multiple schools. My D22 was waitlisted at 1 school (that she really, really wanted), but many of her friends have multiple waitlist options from schools that counselors, parents, and friends thought for sure they would be admitted to. Many kids are waiting for waitlist decisions as if they are just another part of the decision cycle, and are busy writing love letters to the schools and eagerly and optimistically waiting.

Why do you think there are so many waitlisted kids this year – or do you think there’s no more than usual? Do you think there will be a lot of movement this year? Are your kids able to truly give their hearts and commitments to the school they choose with their waitlist schools hanging over them? Are these real possibilities or pipedreams?

MODERATOR NOTE See this thread for closed waitlists. Waitlists 2022 (Class of 2026) that have closed


I think it depends upon the school. Super competitive I think there’ll be normal mvt. Bigger/less competitive schools I think there more. But honestly it’s so hard to know. Hoping there’s lots b/c my kid is WL at his top choice. Good luck!


I’ll focus on this one.

It doesn’t matter what the kids do today. The reality is, once students get on campus in August, the vast majority will be able to do just fine at the school they end up attending. All the angst and longing they might feel right now will be a far distant memory six months from now.

Don’t worry about it.


Yes, my D22 will definitely and she has wonderful schools that she really likes and has some difficult choices to make (we are thankful). But some friends of hers are not in the same boat – and many kids I see on CC have this issue. I am astounded at the number of WL’s I am hearing about, and just wondering if more experienced parents have any insight (this is my first!).

I definitely think there are way more waitlisted kids this year. Looking at the big picture, it is easy to see why. First, many more kids than usual deferred first year enrollment fall 2020. That, coupled with an unpredictable logarithm for forecasting yield for fall 2021, left a large number of highly ranked colleges with an overenrolled freshman class. Schools need to balance that class size out by taking smaller numbers of students for 2022. They don’t want to turn away students, risking underenrollment. Perhaps they are using different yield prediction software or do not trust the modeling. Depending on what the yield starts to look like, there may be movement off waitlists. It is certainly not a guarantee!

ETA My D’s school has a first year class that is 22% bigger than their target amount, which causes issues with course availability, housing, and space in dining halls or the library.


D and many of her friends ended up on the waitlist to our state flagship. She is committed elsewhere and very excited, but she knows we will want her to at least consider the in-state option if, by some miracle, she comes off the waitlist, as it has a huge financial difference in COA over 4 years! I think many students in our area are in a similar boat: looking ahead to accepted options but staying on the waitlists. Good luck to everyone!

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What happens with WLs will depend on the school. Why does it seem more people are on them - more people applied to the schools with the ability to have fee waivers and waived taste scores and the ease of hitting send people shot for the moon more than they have in prior years and too many people applied to the same schools leading to students landing on multiple waitlists.

Should anyone think of a WL as another decision period. Absolutely not. Students should pursue an offer made to them or find another place to enroll that still has openings. Many of the regional schools and lessor known schools didn’t have enough applicants. Those schools are hoping for more people to apply. There are websites to find the schools that know they are going to miss their quota and many are very good regional schools with incredible programs. Let’s take Stetson. It is a very good regional school. Floridians know if. Central Florida not far from all of the industry in Orlando. The business school has internships with those businesses. It has a great musical school including the production side of the music and then many other good programs that would serve students well. They still have applications open passed their deadline because they already know they have space. Stetson is not the only one there are many.

Will students come off of WL’s it depends. Look at CWRU. The school stated that students will
come from that list but also gave lots of things to do. Check in weekly. Look at a possible financial offer etc. The people that come off that list need to go all in but also some will go all in for nothing. How about Emory and Emory Oxford. Historically the number that came off was zero. Covid changed things and 2020 they took a lot off. Last year they took some from the WLs mostly moving those that had said yes to Oxford over to ATL and then filling Oxford. Problem is they (and many other schools got it wrong). Too many people enrolled to both campuses. The school had to find overflow housing, Oxford with its small classes of 25 had to hire extra professors and create extra classes as well. We were told the overflow housing was going and now have heard it will remain at least at Oxford. Looking at that and depending on what they did with acceptance which appears around 9% at least for RD they will see what to do. Many of their students are accepted to both campuses and choose one and depending on need students do choose both. So will they take this year. Hard to know other than at least at Oxford they are expecting a large class size.

Best advice I can give is to pay a deposit somewhere and get excited about that place. Do everything needed - housing , classes (if it gets that far). Plan to be there. If a surprise yes happens from a WL be ready to make a fast decision but realize depending on the school you may now be on the bottom rung for housing. Schools like Ga Tech only guarantee it up until May 1 so to come off the WL means other issues. It also means loss of any money down. So something to consider.


Probably COVID backlog and newly test optional schools created a bigger applicant pool, so more waitlists. Accpetance rates are low this year.

It is fine to write a letter of continued interest. Then treat it as a no. I would try to persuade my kid to look at it that way, so the agony is not prolonged and they can start building interests and connections with a school where they were admitted.

How much of this angst is about not getting in and how much is about not being able to attend? This is an important difference. Students need to understand that college decisions do not determine value of a person. Easy to say but peer culture and social media are problems.


Don’t spend a lot of time hoping for an acceptance off the waitlist. If it happens, great, but consider it a soft “no”.


The most selective schools have turned to the wait list as a polite rejection. Tons of candidates with great qualifications are wait listed as a message saying that they’re good, but not being taken. Because of the large numbers of admitted or matriculated students who took a year off during the pandemic, there is a bulge of students moving through now, that won’t be gone until May, '25. So while the schools may have accepted a full class, I have a feeling that those that are not in money trouble will consider it a blessing to have a slightly smaller '26 class, due to yield, and won’t be looking to the wait list, except to fill very specific needs.

Point is, send the LOCI, inform them of any new big awards/achievements, have the guidance counselor call the ONE first choice of wait list to tell them that, and then move on. Advise your child at that point to forget about the wait list schools, and just move on with their lives. And if they get a happy surprise acceptance over the summer, great. Honestly, by then, they might not even want it, they may be so invested in the school that wanted them in the regular or ED/EA cycle.

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I agree with this wholeheartedly – I actually want my D22 to think of it as a “no” with a very unlikely slim possibility of an offer than might not even be great (Spring start, undesirable housing …). The amount of waitlisted friends and acquaintances D22 has just astounds me. I know colleges use it to protect themselves, but it creates so much uncertainty and angst.

And what about the lack of real transparency about the waitlists from some schools – my D22 was waitlisted at NYU and they don’t even give the number of kids on the WL there is no historical data about how many there usually are and how many have been taken off in years past (they do not release that info). At least some schools give those statistics, which I think is a more honest approach.

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@UniversityMomma , I like transparency too. But I think that schools that have different programs with different admissions policies (like NYU with film or music production for example) aren’t really holding back much by not providing those numbers.

Many schools for many years have WL more kids than they have in their freshman class. I first "discovered " CC in 2015 when I was trying to understand the odds for my WL kid and Google returned this site. Where, btw, I learned that the school in question, with 500 freshmen, had made 843 WL offers the prior year and admitted 3 of them.

Many of those WL will not accept a position on the WL, and of those who do, many will hear nothing until they hear the WL has closed. But some will. (My kid was one, at the same school I mentioned above.)

If you accept a place on a WL, put your best foot forward then forget about it and embrace the opportunity you have.

IF you get that call, you can open your heart and mind to the new possibility, but otherwise, treat it as a no.

When you understand how the schools use these – to fill their class after everyone who wants to say yes has done so – it’s also easier to see why the list is so big and what serendipity is involved in being the kid who fills a hole.

Also remember that if you want to end the ambiguity, you can – tell them you don’t want to stay on the list.


True, each NYU undergrad school must have their own WL needs, and I guess the info would have to be school specific. My daughter applied to CAS. Honestly, it’s not devastating to her at all – she wanted to get in, yes, she really wanted to be able to consider it and for some strange (and maddening to me) reason, she decided in the last month or so to become enamored with it – but she really likes a couple the other choices she has.

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Schools like Northeastern and Boston University that were overenrolled last year were very conservative in accepting students since the yield rate is so uncertain. If yield is low at such schools, there will be movement off the waitlist.


Totally agree with @TomSrOfBoston in that it will depend very much on the school. Anyone who over enrolled last year is likely to be conservative and use the WL to make sure that doesn’t happen again. But whether it’s 10 students or 250 is anyone’s guess (including theirs!)

One of the things that I found when DS was going through this is that at a given school, there can be enormous variability from year to year, even with the same # of WL offers. One year it’s none, the next year it’s 10% of the class. It’s part of the reason for not getting too invested in the schools where you are only the WL.


I imagine that these last two years of college have been wildly unpredictable in terms of yield. That first year – the 2020/2021 school year, had to be an absolute mess. This year was better, but still some virtual class time and probably the class was filled with kids who took the previous year off. Maybe this application year there are some left-overs, too? Not as bad as last year I am sure. But I felt that this year there was this sense of urgency with the plummeting acceptance rate that made the kids apply to soooo many schools.

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This is a major contributing issue. The colleges are finding it hard to discern the true level of interest in the RD phase vs the clear indicators during the ED phase. The move to “test optional” has kids applying to schools they wouldn’t have imagined applying to before. Schools have too many viable candidates for too few spots. Yields are suddenly unpredictable, and many ended up with over-enrolled class sizes beyond expectations which put pressure on housing. This time I think schools will err on the side of yield conservatively, and fill any shortfalls off the WL with continued interest candidates.

The common app has made it possible to apply to colleges with the click of a button. When we were their age it was an effort to apply. The applications and questions were all different. Heck, you wrote to the college just to get the paper application. You had to think hard about your specific question responses. Then you put the application in your typewriter(!), prayed to god it was level and would type just above the line, and punched one letter slowly at a time because heaven-forbid you made an error and had to use liquid paper to correct. Every application was a deliberate effort and colleges knew that. There was skin in the application game in the past. These days it’s like buying a quick-pick lotto ticket. Now, let me tell you about how I had to walk to school barefoot through the snow, uphill both ways……


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


There was a headline in CNN “Student is accepted to 50 colleges”. All I could think was fee waiver and special status. Didn’t even click on it.

We’ve seen students on her shotgunning with 50 applications or more, all to top schools, all very different schools. Interestingly, they say that money is no object, and yet, they have a fee waiver.

My kid? Months of evaluating which schools were really appropriate for them. One EA app, plus had to submit three apps early to public flagships, because of their merit aid deadlines. Hard discussion after the acceptance to the tippy top via EA, followed by a decision to not submit any more applications. But had they not gotten into the tippy top, would have been a total of 7 apps, I think. Money had something to do with that. We thought it was a waste of money to apply to more.