Since a student can only choose to enroll at one college, colleges build waiting lists to ensure that they have full freshman classes. These lists allow colleges to reach out to students they would like to accept but do not have the space to enroll. This system is hard on students and their families, because the school is not sending a clear message regarding an offer of admission.
Most students and their parents are accustomed to wait-listing at private schools, but many are surprised to learn that the University of California also uses waitlists as an enrollment management tool. This strategy helps campuses reach their enrollment targets and budget goals. During these tough economic times the university is dealing with recent and planned state budget cuts. In the fall 2010 admissions cycle, the UC used waitlists for the first time and is doing so again as they build their freshman classes for fall 2011. All campuses plan to use wait lists except for Los Angeles and Merced. Davis and San Diego also have transfer applicant waitlists; other campuses are considering the option for transfers.
How many students are accepted from the waitlist?
This enrollment strategy was first used in fall 2010, so we only have access to single year data. Just two campuses—UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara—admitted significant numbers of students from their waitlists. Their final freshman classes included more than 40% of students admitted off the waitlists.
What our students need to know:
• Students may receive waitlists offers from more than one campus. Students may accept as many offers as they wish. Waitlist offers will be made by the end of March for freshman applicants and the end of April for transfers.
• Once students are offered a spot on a waitlist, they must opt in or lose this opportunity. Instructions for opting in will be included with the waitlist notification.
• Even if students accept a waitlist offer (or several), students should submit a Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) by the stated deadline to a UC campus (or other college or university to which they have been accepted). If they later accept an offer of admission from a campus where they have been wait-listed, they will forfeit their deposit at the first campus.
• Preliminary financial aid awards will be sent at the time students are notified of waitlist offers. Students who submit their SIR by the deadline will be considered on time for housing and orientation scheduling purposes.
• Wait-listed freshman applicants will be notified of their status no later than June 1; wait-listed transfer applicants will be notified by July 1st.
Key difference in waitlist status between UC and private colleges
There are a few important differences between being placed on the waitlist at a private college versus the UC. The key difference is the amount of control you have over the process. At a private college you can continue to add important information to your application, write or call to show your interest and assure the college that it is your first choice school. If you are waitlisted at the UC, you can do little but wait, and that can be unnerving for students and their families.
Carefully consider Your Options
Although it is difficult to be wait-listed at your first choice school, it is important to focus on the schools that accepted you without reservation. If you have received admission offers from one or more UC campuses, out-of- state public and/or private colleges consider these opportunities carefully—this time from the fresh perspective of an admitted applicant. If possible, visit the institution that attracts you the most. Ultimately, being a UC wait-listed applicant may not prove as satisfying to you as accepting a firm offer of admission from a college that clearly wants you. If you did your research carefully, the colleges that offer you admission were appealing enough to make it to your college list in the first place. Your decision to attend a college that accepts you gives you the freedom to move forward, make definitive college plans and enjoy the remainder of your senior year.
Elizabeth LaScala Ph.D. guides high school and transfer students through the complex world of college admissions. She develops best match college lists, offers personalized essay coaching to produce thoughtful, unique responses and tools and strategies to tackle each step of the admissions timelines with confidence and success. Elizabeth advises students from all backgrounds, including college-bound athletes, and maximizes merit and financial aid awards. She earned certification from UC Berkeley in College Admissions and Career Planning. Contact her @ (925) 891-4491 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted in part with kind permission from Lamorinda Weekly.