Are college waiting lists too large?

In a recent article published in Inside Higher Ed, editor Scott Jaschik reports on college waiting list numbers in the past two years.

Brown University admitted 2,566 freshmen for this upcoming fall. Brown’s offered 2,724 spots on the waiting list.

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) admitted 3,731 students for an anticipated class of 2,445. UPenn’s wait-list was 3,500.

Jaschik interviewed a UPenn spokeswoman who reported that in recent years, “the number off the wait-list has ranged from 20 to 175.”

Ivy League institutions are not the only ones with huge waiting lists. Last year, Boston College offered 5,689 applicants a spot on the waiting list, but just more than 100 students were admitted, Jaschik writes.

John Mahoney, director of Undergraduate admission at Boston College states that students are offered a spot on the waiting list because they are “talented and deserving of admission.” The admissions committee wants to acknowledge the hard work these students have put in to their schooling and their applications, instead of meeting them with a flat out rejection.

Christina Quinn, a college admission advisor from Rhode Island, claims that “this year seems worse than ever” for waiting lists and that most students “have no idea how daunting the odds are of being admitted off a waiting list.”

Some programs, such as the undergraduate nursing program at the University of New England, have relatively small waiting lists.

Jaschik interviews Scott E. Steinberg, VP of admissions at University of New England, who is careful to note that in his career, he has “seen the value” of a large waiting list at a liberal arts college. Since not all applicants will accept their offer off the waiting list, Mahoney states, the list can shuffle.

Are waiting lists too large? Or is it important to reward a deserving applicant with a spot on the waiting list? Let us know in the comments. To read the full article, go to:

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