Legal Aspects of A Waitlist Offer

<p>While this issue has been discussed in multiple places, for various colleges, I wish to use this thread as a Yes/No list to guide those considering accepting a place on multiple waitlists.</p>

<p>The Issue: It is not uncommon for a candidate to have two or three colleges as "first choice." One who gets a waitlist offer from two or more of these "first choice" colleges, may want to accept all of them. So, is it "legal" to accept more than one waitlist offers? Specifically, if I get accepted at a college through waitlist, will I be bound to attend it (and withdraw acceptance from another)? (Actually, I'm thinking of accepting waitlist offer at two colleges, and enroll in a third while I'm waitling. If, at the time of the waitlist decision, I realize that I do not want to enroll in the college that makes the offer, I want to able to turn it down.)</p>

<p>Note: I'm aware that some may feel that accepting multiple waitlists is unethical. But I believe that accepting 2-3 waitlist offers is within moral limits, especially considering that one's career and future depends on one's choice of college. So please regard only the legal aspects of this issue.</p>

<p>Please state whether the following colleges (expand the list, if you can) have a binding clause on accepting a place on waitlist (provide links to documents that support the choice):</p>

<p>California Institute of Technology:
Carnegie Mellon University:
Case Western Reserve University:
Columbia University:
Duke University:
Harvard College:
Johns Hopkins University:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
New York University:
Princeton University:
University of California, Berkeley:
University of Chicago:
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor:
University of Pennsylvania:
Yale University:</p>

<p>I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a waitlist that is binding. Many students, if not admitted, have other choices and move on and do not want the complication of a late offer.</p>

<p>Sometimes, students contact a school where they are waitlisted, and indicate if they are offered admission off the wait list, they will attend. Not sure how enforceable that is, though.</p>

<p>Our D was offered admission from a waitlist. She was given four days to make a decision whether to attend or not. She is finishing her third year at that school.</p>

<p>I don’t think there’s any prohibition to signing up for more than one waitlist, either. Going in to it, you have no idea which schools will even go to their waitlist, or if they do, if you will be offered a spot.</p>

<p>I know of not a single college that has any sort of binding restriction on WL offers.</p>

<p>There are no ethical or legal issues here.</p>

<p>Nothing wrong with accepting multiple WL offers since they are only offers to remain on a list and not an actual slot. If and when actual offers start rolling in, then it’s up to the student to weigh multiple actual offers.</p>

<p>Consider this scenario: I enrolled into College ‘A’ before the 1st may deadline. But, I’ve also accepted a place on waitlists at colleges ‘B’ and ‘C’, which I consider my first-choice colleges. </p>

<p>Then College ‘B’ offers me an admission off a waitlist. I accept it, forfeiting my enrollment at ‘A’.</p>

<p>What I understand is that a school may require a candidate to deposit the enrollment fee (that is, enroll), if accepted off a waitlist. Now, suppose College ‘C’ is one such college. If ‘C’ offers me admission, I’m obliged to attend. So, are there any colleges with a policy like ‘C’ ?</p>

<p>“What I understand is that a school may require a candidate to deposit the enrollment fee (that is, enroll), if accepted off a waitlist.”</p>

<p>No. If college C decides to offer you a spot off the waitlist, you are never bound to accept them just b/c you accepted their WL invitation. You are still 100% free to decline them, whether or not you are planning to attend A or B. Of course, if you want to attend C, you pay them the fee.</p>

<p>Even the scenario where you accept A before may 1st, later accept B (forfeiting A’s deposit). Then late in the summer, college C comes with an offer – at that point, you can still turn down B (forfeiting that deposit) to attend C. It’s allowable and the colleges know this can happen. It’s called “summer or enrollment slippage”</p>

<p>So, there are “absolutely” no colleges in the country that force you to enroll, if you are accepted off waitlist: “all” of them give you an option to accept or decline. Is it so?</p>

<p>I’ve never heard of one. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist however. But it’d be a terribly stupid program – very selfish on the part of the school for very little return. All it would do is scare away potential WL acceptees. For what? Having a WL means you can go down the list. If the 20 of the first 50 WL offers turn you down, you go to the next 20.</p>

<p>There’s no reason to bind anyone of your WLs – all you do is make it more difficult for your potential customers – when at the end of the day, you’ll still be able to fill your slots. And you’d put yourself at a huge disadvantage vis a vis your peer colleges whose WLs have no binding clauses. </p>

<p>That’s why waitlists are hundreds of students deep.</p>

<p>Hope this make sense.</p>


<p>No school can force a student to enroll under any circumstances.</p>

<p>Yes, I thought so, too. But being an international student, I can’t say that there’s no law in the country that prohibits a college from doing so. I guess Early Decision is enforced, so why can’t such a policy (however stupid) be?</p>

<p>Linux, I think what everyone is saying is that they do not know of any schools with a wait list rule like the ED rule. So this is a non-issue. </p>

<p>Have you encountered a school with a waitlist rule that you can use as an example? If so, if you shared your finding, maybe someone can give you a better explaination.</p>

<p>You can accept as many waitlist offers as you please. What some schools do not tolerate is doubling up on acceptances and if they find out you did that, they will dump you on theirs. CMU is one of those schools. But a waitlist is a waitlist. </p>

<p>Early Decision is enforced only by a group of colleges that share their ED admits and if they see you on the list, they will purge you from consideration if you have not already withdrawn your RD application, and may notifiy your accepted college and your high school that you violate ED terms if they see you on more than one ED accepted list or recognize you as ED from their lists. Basically, you will lose both spots on ED if you get accepted to two schools that swap ED lists, and jeopardize your spot on all other schools that subscribe to that list. SO you are warned up front what ED rules are , and ED school also let you know that your accepted status will be made known–you lose your privacy when it comes to ED. Not so with waitlists. Schools do not do this. </p>

<p>I believe CMU has a “priority waitlist” and I do not remember what the terms of it are. Still waitlist status is not tracked at this time. ED is, to some degree.</p>

<p>Early decision is not “enforced” either, linuxfan. It is ethically binding (i.e., most agreements stipulate that you agree to enroll if the finances work out) but not legally binding. If you poke around the site, you’ll find long threads discussing this.</p>

<p>Now, I’m fairly convinced that accepting two waitlist will not harm me. Thanks to all who participated.</p>