Advice On Being Waitlisted

Karen Jean, Staff Writer

Before a few months ago I had never heard of the word “waitlisted”, now it’s all I know about. 


Back in the fall I applied to Duke University. In April, regular decisions came out and I found out I had been put on the waitlist for this university. I had no idea what it meant, or what I had to do. After I found out, I decided to do my own research on the subject and learn as much as I could. Today I am writing this to educate other seniors who are in my position or future seniors who could be put into this position, so they know what to do in this situation. 


What exactly does being Waitlisted mean?  

When you as an applicant are waitlisted from a University, it does not mean you were rejected. A university has a specific amount of incoming students that they can accept into their school. Sometimes the number of applicants that are qualified to be accepted is more than the capacity that the university can accept. This is where the waitlist comes into place.


Imagine the acceptance process as a pyramid with three levels. The top level are those who exceeded above and beyond the universities expectations therefore where accepted. The middle level are those who met the requirements and expectations and could be considered good enough for the university. The bottom level are those who did not meet the university’s requirements or expectations therefore were rejected. The middle level are put into the waitlist, which means they can either be accepted or rejected after the committing period. 

How many people are put in the waitlist?

This really depends on the university. A more prestigious university that accepts less people tends to have a smaller waitlist than a more accepting university. Looking at Duke past years this number has ranged anywhere from the low hundreds to the low thousands.This is why it’s important to do research on your universities past waitlist lists. 


How many people are accepted or rejected from the waitlist?

This depends on the number of people who actually commit to the university after being accepted. The whole reason why there is a waitlist is because the university is trying to fill its first year capacity to the fullest. The thing is that not everyone who is accepted to the university will end up committing to attend because they have an acceptance from a better university or they simply don’t have the money for it. This is where the waitlisted people come to do their job. Based on the number of empty spaces they have after everyone commits is the number of people who will be taken from that waitlist to fill those spaces.

What determines who in specific is taken from that waitlist to fill up the spaces?

The university will tell you that it is like a lottery process. There is no preference rather it is taken randomly from the list. But in the down low there is something that can be done to help your chances of being chosen. 

What is a LOCI?

LOCI stands for letter of continued interest. This is the one thing that, though it is not officially said by the universities to help your case, that can potentially do some good for you. This letter is an email that you write to your regional university’s admissions officer that you can find in the university’s contact information. 


What do you write in a LOCI?

In the email to your regional admissions officer you want to thank them for putting you in the waitlist and then let them know how you are still really interested in the university and still consider it your top choice. This lets them know that if you are accepted form the waitlist you will 100 percent commit to the school. Some say that in that letter you can talk about things that you have done ever since you applied to the present day showing them how you are not slacking off. What I did was that I wrote about a change in mindset and perspective. Think about LOCI as an opportunity to include something that you would have wished to include when you first applied but could not because it happened after you applied. You want to get them to be interested in you and amaze them even more than before however that might be. 

Being waitlisted does not always have to be a bad thing. You should be proud to know that you were good enough. What I recommend is that no matter what, you still end up committing to your second top choice because they don’t let you know if you were accepted until after the committing deadline and you don’t have a clear guarantee to be accepted. 

Hope this helped someone in some kind of way, now all I have to say is Good Luck 🙂