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What To Do If You've Been Waitlisted

Posted by on Thursday, April 2, 2009 in Application Process, Waitlist.

This year, Vanderbilt’s pool of applicants was so strong that many students who may have been admitted even a year ago were offered a spot on our waitlist.  Keep in mind that it was equally difficult to be offered a spot on our waitlist as it was to be admitted.  Still, I know that many students and families are unclear about what being on a waitlist means, and as such, I hope this post provides some insight into Vanderbilt’s waitlist process.

The good news is that we model our class with the goal of enrolling students from the waitlist.  Before The Commons, Vanderbilt’s incoming class size could fluctuate with any additional students being housed across campus.  With the advent of The Commons we are committed to housing all first-year students together.  We use the waitlist to round out the class, in whatever way it needs rounding out. 

First off, we do not rank order our waitlist.  We approach it by school (A&S, Engineering, Peabody, and Blair).  It is almost like having 4 different waitlists.  Due to the segmented nature of the list, we do not comment on how many students are active on our waitlist — it is our belief that the overall number is misleading as a gauge of a student’s chances of coming off the waitlist.    It is important to note that while we plan to make offers from our waitlist, we cannot predict our yield (% of students offered admission who accept), and therefore we do not know if we will be making offers from the list, and in what quantities.

We know that students’ reactions to being offered a spot on the waitlist will differ – some will say no thanks to the entire thing, some will accept a spot on the waitlist just to see what happens, and some will accept a spot on our list because we remain their top choice.  It is identifying that third group of students that is of primary interest to us. 

So how do you demonstrate your interest to us?  You do not have to visit, or write another essay, or tattoo Mr. C’s mug on your forearm.  You just need to do the following:  1) return the yellow waitlist reply form indicating you wish to be active on our waitlist, 2) contact your admissions officer and let him/her know you remain interested, 3)  respond to our waitlist check-in emails when they come (see below for more on this), and 4) consider submitting any substantially relevant new information (e.g., new grades that might be available).

If you accept a spot on our waitlist, you will be asked to provide an email address because we will be communicating periodically with you via email.  It is vital that your email address is one that you check often and is one that will not block our emails in a spam filter.  The emails we send will try to keep you informed about what’s going on at Vanderbilt and (most importantly) ask you if you remain interested in Vanderbilt.  We will ask you to respond to these emails by submitting an online Wait List Update form indicating that you remain interested in VU. 

This information, along with all of the other information you already provided with your application, will be used by our staff to make offers from our waitlist, if we are able to do so.  Students admitted and enrolling from the waitlist are still able to receive financial aid (if they qualify), get housing, and register for their classes, just like students admitted under ED or RD.

For now, you need to begin sorting your offers of admission and decide if you want to accept a spot on our waitlist.  If we are able to make offers from the waitlist, we  will not do so until May, so you will need to accept another school’s offer of admission by their reply deadline.  Starting the first week in May (after all of the deposits have been received) we analyze our class and begin making offers of admission from our waitlist.  We will try and provide regular updates on this blog about the waitlist, including more information about whether we’ll be making offers, and how that process will work.

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Responses

  • David

    April 2nd, 2009

    Whoops! Too late, I already sent in another essay expressing my interest in Vanderbilt. I also called my admission officer immediately after I received my waitlist letter. Also on side note Thom, what’s the most interesting/desperate thing that a student has ever done to get in that worked and that didn’t work?

  • Thom

    April 3rd, 2009

    David,

    Interesting question . . . here’s some of the lowlights from the “weird stuff students send us” category: 1) a paper mache squirrel, 2) a shoe with a note on it saying “Now that I got my foot in the door . . . ” 3) and perhaps most disturbingly, an applicant sent in a vial of water colored deep red with food coloring with the ultra creepy note of “I would sweat blood to come to Vanderbilt.” Not surprisingly, none of these “worked.”

    Thanks for posting Hillary, we’ll try and keep the updates coming through this blog.

  • Hillary

    April 2nd, 2009

    Thanks for the tips, Thom!

    I, unfortunately, got waitlisted, but I’m going to try as hard as I can to get myself off of it because this limbo is torture.

  • Leigh

    April 3rd, 2009

    What would be possible factors between being waitlisted vs. rejected? My son scored a 35 on ACT, his lowest grade in high school was a 95, attended a small school that did not offer AP but did offer some Dual Enrollment, which he took. He is well rounded – Varsity football captain, voted homecoming king by his peers and most likely to succeed by his teachers. His essay was proofed by teachers, a writer, etc. and all said it was well thought out and well written. While Vanderbilt was the only school that never made any attept to contact my son after he applied, we attributed it to the fact that all applicants were top notch. While we realized scholarship awards would be extremely competitive, it had never really occurred to us that he would be flat out rejected. Yet the letter we received earlier this week informed us of exactly that. I am seriously puzzled and would appreciate some insight.

  • Thom

    April 3rd, 2009

    Without having first-hand knowledge of the application, it would be hard to provide concrete insight. You can call our office to discuss the decision with an officer, as we try and make ourselves available to answer questions like your’s. The review process is not formulaic or linear and involves a large degree of subjective analysis (for example, the student’s overall fit with the Vanderbilt community, etc). Thanks for reading and posting.

  • Imo

    April 3rd, 2009

    Hi Thom,
    I followed the “your admission officer” link, and I found my admission officers e-mail adress. I wanted to ask if its preferable to call or e-mail, and if i need to call, how do I get the number? By the way, thanks a lot for the tips

  • L

    April 3rd, 2009

    Thanks for this informative post! I was wondering, why do we need to contact our regional admissions officer? Do I have to tell her verbally that I am interested? (I’ve already mailed back the yellow waitlist card.) Also, does Vandy require waitlistees to send a copy of their final transcript? Unfortunately I had some family issues this semester, which resulted in a terrible grade in one of my extremely difficult classes, and I am currently struggling to bring it up. I’m really scared that it will kill my chances in being considered for admission.

  • Dorothy

    April 5th, 2009

    Thanks for all the great information. My son has elected to stay on the waitlist and has sent in his reply card. Vandy still remains his first choice although he has gotten acceptances and scholarship money from Duke, UVA, and Emory. You say that financial aid will still be available if you come off the WL. Is there anyway to get an estimate of what that aid would be so we would know whether or not we would be able to pay for Vanderbilt even if he is accepted?

  • VG

    April 5th, 2009

    Thom

    Pleased to report back after a great visit to Vanderbilt. Here is a brief report to share with others:
    1. Vanderbilt has taken extra efforts to make the transition from High School to College very easy on the students. We like the Freshman Commons very much. Great dorm rooms, by the way – they could easily pass off as some fancy resort hotel rooms – only slightly exaggerating :-)
    2. Fantastic campus – lot of trees – nicely placed benches and tables – noticed many students studying outside in the shades..
    3. Newly renovated college buildings – liked the engineering school the best.
    4. Very friendly and informed tour guides – we could not get to return the survey cards – but ours was the only female tour guide for the day – so, instead of naming her – we would like to report that she was really responsive to all questions and very welcoming.
    5. Visited the Baseball Stadium – a game was going on – we have been following the dores for some years and are a great fan of David Price. Nice setting for the stadium – we noticed a good gathering of fans the game.
    6. The immediate neighborhood of the university seems to be an extension of the university – which is a good sign – all the businesses and restaurants seemed to have either students/faculty as customers. Many students were also at the sales counters.
    7. The tour group consisted of many out-of-state visitors – and that seemed to be reflected in the large percentage of out of state students in Vanderbilt. Students seemed decently attired – as decent as one can expect from them.
    8. Students we talked to enjoyed being there and said the professors enjoyed teaching in Vanderbilt as well. They emphasized undergrad research experiences and multi-disciplinary studies as their best experiences.
    8. One gets a clear impression that the university, faculty and students are focused primarily on education.

    VG

  • Emily

    April 5th, 2009

    Thom, should we submit new and relevant information by mail, or is email fine?

  • Mac

    April 6th, 2009

    Thom-
    Although I was not denied admission from any of my schools, Vanderbilt definitely remains my top choice. Seeing this blog eased a bit of the anxiety and stress associated with being in “admissions limbo,” and it reaffirmed to me the thoughtful and engaging nature of the Vanderbilt community. I have already written a letter to my VU regional admissions officer, but was wondering if I should place a call. I do not have any questions–I wish only to demonstrate my avid interest on being admitted.

    Thanks again for making this blog available.
    Mac

  • Thom

    April 6th, 2009

    Hello all,

    Sending in information via mail or email or fax is all fine. If you choose to contact your admissions officer via mail or email (in your example Mac) there’s no need to call. The letter/email should suffice. The point here is that you have updated us on your level of interest in VU, not necessarily in the number of contacts with us (i.e., email + call = more interest).

    Thom

  • Zach

    April 6th, 2009

    Hey! I’m so very pleased and thankful that I was admitted to Vanderbilt, but I am still waiting on a friend to hopefully pass through the wait list and into the admitted list. Just as a piece of knowledge or information, take it as you will, but I also applied to several other top-tier schools (Harvard, Yale, etc) and was flat-out denied at all of them. Calling it luck might be going a little too far, but it is unimaginable that these schools can admit every student that deserves to be there, so do not be too disappointed at simply getting wait listed. My friend has an equally impressive transcript and a similar, albeit different, set of extracurricular activities and service, and he was accepted at Notre Dame but is on the wait list here.

    I guess my biggest point to everyone is to keep trying and make yourself stand out because there are so many qualified students that it must be nigh-impossible to decide between most of them.

    Thank you, Thom, for the wonderful articles!
    -Zach

  • Chris

    April 7th, 2009

    Thom,
    When will Transfer Admissions decisions be mailed?

  • Brad

    April 8th, 2009

    We typically get letters out within 10 business days after the application completes.

  • Lizbeth

    April 7th, 2009

    I’ve already mailed in the yellow waitlist card; how long ’till we receive an email from Vanderbilt?

  • Sean

    April 7th, 2009

    Hi, I have heard that some colleges that are need-blind during the regular admissions cycle are not need-blind when taking people off the wait-list. Does vandy remain need-blind with the waitlist?

  • Erika

    April 8th, 2009

    What does one do if they can’t find their waitlist letter and reply sheet (a terrible faux pas, I know)?

  • Jules

    April 13th, 2009

    Thom – could you address the validity of a rumor about VU admitting only a certain number of students from a given high school? As far as we know, 4 students from my son’s rather large, in-state high school have been admitted to VU while my son has been wait-listed. If some or all of these students accept admittance into Vanderbilt, will it affect my son’s chance of being admitted?

  • Thom

    April 13th, 2009

    Jules, we never approach our admission decisions from the standpoint of having some arbitrary limit on how many students we can admit from a given high school (whether at ED, Regular, or from the waitlist). Your son’s chance of being admitted is not affected by the decisions of those four students.

  • Jules

    April 14th, 2009

    As I suspected, another misinformed parent acting like a know-it-all. Thanks for your prompt, honest answer.

  • Emily

    April 14th, 2009

    Thanks a lot Thom for all the great advice! I have a question- if we want to mail something, do we send it to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions given on the admissions site?

  • Thom

    April 15th, 2009

    Emily, yep, send it to: Undergraduate Admissions, Vanderbilt University, 2305 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203-1727. Thanks!

  • undecided

    April 15th, 2009

    Thom,
    Admitted @Vandy and would like to keep option open(would def attend if and) when gf hopefully comes off waitlist. I know the letter said that two deposits(at different schools) were not allowed, any exceptions? and at what point will the waitlist applicants have to respond?

  • Vandy.hopeful

    April 17th, 2009

    Hi Thom! So I read your post how some over the top things students didn’t work, but I was thinking of penning a tune and sending it in to show how much I really love Vanderbilt. I’m just curious, could this actually hurt my chances to get in? (I’m applying to be an engineer by the way, so this would have nothing to do with the music school.)

  • Thom

    April 17th, 2009

    Vandyhopeful,

    You are welcome to send in whatever you like . . . but things like a song won’t help any. Not to put a damper on your creativity here, but I would recommend not sending it in.

    Thanks,
    Thom

  • Jules

    April 17th, 2009

    undecided – please listen to age and wisdom here, and don’t plan your college career around “gf”. If you’ve been admitted to Vanderbilt, you are hopefully smarter than that!

  • Nick

    April 21st, 2009

    Hi Thom! I was just wondering, what is the earliest day that admissions will begin to send out wait-list acceptances? And will the notification also be via e-mail? Thank you!

  • Nick

    April 21st, 2009

    Sorry to bother you again, but I have a quick question about sending additional information. In my response to the wait-list confirmation e-mail, I attached a Microsoft Word document file that contained a list of my updated extracurriculars and achievements. In the e-mail, I asked them to e-mail me back if there was any problem opening the file. Do you think the admissions people would have gotten it? Or should I send it by mail just in case? Thank you!

  • Thom

    April 21st, 2009

    Nick, if you sent it to the waitlist@vanderbilt.edu email address, I am sure they received it. They will let you know if the attachment did not come through. We do not know at this point if and when we will be able to make offers from the waitlist. If we are to make offers, it would likely be sometime in that first full week in May that we would begin. Of course, we will do everything we can to keep everyone updated here on the blog.

  • Nandini

    May 20th, 2009

    I am so grateful to you that you have provided admission-related information.

  • Sandy

    May 26th, 2009

    Thom,
    Can you give me an update on the size/status of the waitlist? I recently received an offer from notre dame and would accept that over my current school. Vanderbilt remains my top choice. However, my parents will not let me put down another deposit. I can either go to notre dame or stick with where I put my original deposit (and hope vandy comes through). I have one week to decide. Any information or insight would be greatly appreciated.

  • FWB

    May 30th, 2009

    I am so grateful that you have provided inofrmation on how to take admission.

  • Anonymous

    October 21st, 2009

    Thanks for all the admission-related information. I think the students will find this post to be a useful one.

  • Christine

    March 30th, 2010

    I too was placed on the wait list, and am wondering how large the list is and traditionally how many students are accepted from the wait list? I have been accepted to three state schools, none of which I would ever choose over Vanderbilt under ordinary circumstances; however, my mother just lost her job and I have an older sister in college, as well as a twin sister who will be in college next year and we all rely on my mother’s financial support. Do you think I should hold out for Vanderbilt, or accept one of my offers from The College of New Jersey, SUNY Binghamton, or SUNY New Paltz?

  • Josh

    April 7th, 2010

    I’ve been waitlisted too…but Vanderbilt is more than worth wait! I’ve been waitlisted at all of my top choice schools, but Vanderbilt is definitely where I can see myself living, working, and playing for the next four years…one visit to the campus was all it took…Good luck to all!!!

    Ooh…and when are these waitlist email updates supposed to be sent out?

    –Thanks!

  • Rocky

    April 12th, 2010

    I am a high school senior who has recently been waitlisted at Vanderbilt. I have some updated academic information, extracurricular information and details about an internship I’m doing at the end of this month, and recomendations from teachers and college counselors- what, if any of these, would you recommend sending? And would it be better to send to the admissions office or to my admissions officer? Thanks for any help I can get and good luck guys!

  • Blanco Catalogo

    February 8th, 2012

    Thank you for the information about how to take an admission. I have waitlisted too.