2 Questions You Must Answer to Get Admitted Off a College Waiting List

In a previous post, we discussed growing college waiting lists. The likelihood of getting admitted off of a waiting list may be slim, but if you are willing to take your chances, this post is for you.

The first step to getting admitted off of a waiting list is remaining on one. Often, the college will request that you fill out a “wait list form” or send an email confirmation of your intention to stay in queue for admission as spots open up.

Whether you are filling out a form, sending an email, or mailing out your confirmation physically, what you are writing is a Letter of Continued Interest.

The Letter of Continued Interest should focus on addressing the following two questions:

  1. Are you (still) interested?
  2. Are you (still) interesting?

Colleges seek assurance that if they make a student an offer of admission, that student will accept the offer. The initial part of your letter should answer in the affirmative the question,  Are you (still) interested?

In your letter, you should include phrases such as, “My interest in ______ College never wavered,” if the college is not your #1 choice, but in the top, and phrases such as “______ College is still my first choice,” if the college is indeed your top pick.

If you are writing this letter to your dream school, use the magic phrase: “If admitted, I will attend.” But do not make this assertion unless you plan to follow through on it.

For the article we touched on last week, editor Scott Jaschik interviewed John L. Mahoney, director of undergraduate admission at Boston College.

Mahoney shared that, “The students who enroll from our waiting list each year are often the most grateful and enthusiastic members of our community for the four years they are here.”

To get an offer from a school you are waitlisted by, your letter must communicate both gratitude and enthusiasm.


The bulk of your letter should be a response to the question, “Are you (still) interesting?”

You have been placed on the waiting list because you are a strong candidate. You met the academic requirements of the college and impressed them with your application.

Do not repeat anything already stated on your original application.

Instead, share any new developments. Have you picked up a new hobby or strengthened your skills in an existing one? Did you attend an academic conference that was particularly engaging? Did you read a fantastic novel? Start volunteering?

The Letter of Continued Interest may also be a good space to discuss your summer plans. Do you have an internship lined up? Will you be travelling?

In Conclusion

The Letter of Continued Interest should communicate your enthusiasm, gratitude, and continued interest in the college. This letter should also supplement your application: what have you been up to since applying?

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