Welcome to the Common App

You’re about to get your admission decisions. You should have had a Plan B going into the application season. But you might need a Plan C or even a Plan D. Maybe you’ve been waitlisted or flat rejected at your reach and target schools. Maybe you didn’t even get into your safety schools. Maybe you didn’t get one viable financial aid package. 


If you’ve been waitlisted, don’t be surprised. Waitlists at competitive colleges are getting larger and larger. First, many students deferred enrollment during the covid crisis. They may decide to enroll. Second, there are more applications than ever, even though the number of applicants has stayed relatively stable. Because students apply to so many other colleges, it’s harder to assume they’ll matriculate at any particular college.

With an uncertain yield rate, colleges want to make sure they can fill their freshman classes. So they expand their waitlists. What to do if you’re waitlisted? Well, you must realize first that your chances of being admitted from the waitlist aren’t great. It’s about 20 percent at schools that have waitlists. At highly competitive schools, it’s more like 5-10 percent.

What to do if you’re waitlisted? Understand that there is no order of priority to the waitlist. Anyone is as likely as anyone to make it in from the waitlist. Send a nice letter to your geographic representative in the admissions office. Explain how you’d really like to get in. Have you won any awards since sending in the application? Do you have updated grades? Meanwhile, prepare to attend a different college.

Alternative Options

Maybe you got insufficient financial aid. In that case, you can appeal your financial aid award. Maybe you didn’t even get into your safety schools. Many students go to their local community college before attending a bachelor’s degree-awarding institution. Many students take a gap year. These are options.

Accumulating credits through your local community college (or an online college) can save you a lot of money. You may even be able to earn a four-year degree. If you hope to complete a four-year degree at another school, find out what credits they will allow you to transfer.

A gap year is a year “off.” It really shouldn’t be a year off. You should have a plan. If you can afford it, a year of prep school might work for you. Maybe you’ll want to travel. If money is an issue, you’ll possibly want to work.

If you don’t get admitted to the college of your choice, or even if Plan B doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. Initiate Plan C or even Plan D.