Waiting for the Waitlist

Admit It!  If you’re on a waitlist, whether at W&M or elsewhere, you anxiously await the May 1 date almost as much as you awaited April 1.  Yet May 1 is here and you still don’t have any answers from William & Mary.  This blog is intended to explain why the waitlist involves so much waiting, both for students and for our office.

So the national deposit deadline is May 1.  So why on May 2 do we not know whether or not we will use the waitlist?  Well, May 1 is a postmark deadline; we need to wait several business days to collect all of the deposits that were postmarked by May 1 so we have an accurate idea of where our class is numbers-wise. 

Okay, so now it’s the second week of May.  At that point, we need to assess where we are.  If our class is short, how short is it and how many students will we need to consider to fill the class (remember, just like regular admission, not all those on the waitlist will accept our offer of admission so we may need to admit more students than we actually need to fill the class)?  Additionally, where did the class fall short (did we reach the required 65% in-state/35% out-of-state ratio for example)?  Okay, so now we’ve got that figured out.

So now we’re into the third week of May.  The deans must now review all of the students remaining on the waitlist and prepare for another round of Committee deliberations.  This can take several days because we do not rank our waitlist and therefore need to review the files of all students on the waiting list to determine who we believe to be the most competitive for admission.

The Committee meets, decides who to admit and then the calls begin.  Here’s where there’s a bit of disconnect.  When admitting students, we first attempt to call the student’s cell phone.  However you’re often in school when we’re at work so we can have a difficult time reaching you.  We’ve often found that when we leave voicemails (or when we follow up with an email) we get no response.  We get it; texting and Facebook are many times your preferred means of communication but the professional world hasn’t yet totally caught up with the rapid pace of today’s communication.  So there’s some lag time between the initial phone call and receiving a response from that student.  If the student says no, then we need to call another student, wait for them to return our call, and so on.

So now we’re into late May/early June.  At this time we’ll also have had to time to observe whether or not other schools are using their waitlists and whether or not that’s affecting the students who already chose to enroll at W&M.  If other schools are using their waitlists extensively and our class is taking a hard hit we may need to reconvene the Committee again and admit additional students.  Furthermore, if initially we felt we wouldn’t need to go to the waitlist but find our class is taking a bigger hit than anticipated as other schools use their waitlist we may decide to admit students from the waitlist in early June.

Before you know it, it’s June 15th.  At that time we’ll either close or waitlist or notify students that while they are not admitted as of yet, we may still admit more students in the coming weeks.  We admit, it might feel like you’re in some Beckett-ian absurdist play waiting for some guy named Godot who never arrives (or in this case a thick envelope that never appears in your mailbox) but this process does have a conclusion it’s just getting to that conclusion takes some time.  The waitlist is aptly named, it’s a process of waiting, on both your end and ours.   To help the process go more smoothly there are a few things waitlisted students can do.  1) If you are no longer interested in attending W&M, email admission@wm.edu and withdraw your application from the waitlist.  2) Check your email and voicemail regularly so that you do not miss any important communication from us.  3) Wait patiently.  We will all move through this process as efficiently as possible.

The wait is on but almost over.

Wendy Livingston, ’03, M.Ed. ’09
Senior Assistant Dean of Admission

Categories: Admission, Faculty & Staff Blogs
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Comments are closed on posts older than one year, but we still want to hear from you. If you have a comment or question for us, please email admission@wm.edu.