College Waitlist: What to Do to Maximize Your Chances

College Waitlist: What to Do to Maximize Your Chances

Some colleges and universities can’t admit all of the students they would like to, so many are put on the waitlist. And this year, COVID-19 might significantly impact yield, meaning more colleges will need to go to their waitlist to fill the incoming class.

Despite more schools possibly needing to go to the WL, getting admitted from the waitlist is not easy. However, it is possible with some work! Although I do not suggest being overly optimistic, there are strategies that have worked for students in the past that I am going to share in this post. Of course, if you want individualized guidance, we can provide it, so please reach out.

First, get familiar with the WL data from past years. How many students are offered spots on the WL? How many accept their spot, and more importantly, how many does school X ultimately admit? Some of these numbers are dismal, but it is best to know what you are up against rather than sit hopefully in the dark. Look at the Common Data Set first (http://www.commondataset.org/). A few other sites to review:

Before getting busy implementing waitlist strategies (below), it is important to deposit at a current top choice school (a school where you have been admitted) and get excited about the prospect of attending. Take advantage of admitted student days and other events that connect you with potential future classmates, including joining “Class of 2024” Facebook groups. These forums are often very informative, fun, and can help you take your mind off the waitlist waiting game.

Once you have accepted a spot on the WL, deposited elsewhere, and familiarized yourself with the waitlist data, I suggest considering the strategies below. Not all of them are novel, but without much to lose, why not do all you can so you can look back without any what-ifs?

  1. Write a waitlist letter. This letter should contain information updating the school on what you’ve been up to both inside and outside of the classroom since the time you applied. Consider including:
    1. A paragraph or two of “academic” updates. Spend some time talking about coursework and school projects, and make connections to future courses of study. You can even drop in related courses you’d like to take at school X, like those you’d include in a Why School essay, but only do this if you did not submit an essay of this type when you applied, otherwise you are being redundant and that is not well-received.
    2. A paragraph or two of “extracurricular” updates but only if significant and can be connected to how you will add value to the school where you are deferred. This includes school and non-school clubs, service commitments, and/or other leadership experiences you can highlight. Like the academic paragraph(s), making connections to similar opportunities you plan to undertake in college can be helpful additions. For example, if you talk about a new project you spearheaded as VP of your school’s Interact Club, you may want to include that you hope to lead a similar project within a specific club or group at school X. Being very specific is important.
    3. A paragraph that talks about the additional ways you have connected with and continued to get to know school X since you applied. This could include setting up an informational interview with a local alum, a current student, reaching out to your local regional alumni group (more on this below), or continuing to connect with your regional rep via email.
    4. A paragraph that reiterates your interest in the school, and that if admitted, you will attend. *If you are not 100% committed to attending, do not say so in the letter.
  2. Send your waitlist letter to your regional rep (if an option) or upload it on your applicant portal. Ask whoever you address it to if they have any advice for you as a waitlisted candidate. Keep this line of communication open; do not email updates every week, but stay in touch to continue to demonstrate interest.
  3. Ask your guidance counselor to call the admissions office and advocate for you, as well as provide any additional information they may have that will support your candidacy.  Ask them to back up what they say on the phone in an email if they have time and are willing. Make sure they send updated grades/transcripts promptly. Your grades should have remained the same or gotten better, not dipped.
  4. Obtain and have an extra letter of recommendation sent, but only if the school welcomes extra LORs (some schools explicitly state on their WL docs they do not welcome or want extra LORs). A teacher, coach, or someone else close to you who can speak to your potential contributions to the university could draft this letter. *Side note on alumni letters­ and letters from well-known and or famous people. Many students ask if these are helpful to send, and the answer is no unless the person knows well you or they are a very high-level donor with solid connections to admissions (even then why count on someone else?!?). If you think that a big name vouching for you will help, it generally doesn’t as a stand-alone factor, and officers can see through these often brief and less than meaningful notes.

Consider the following strategies in addition to the tried and true tips above:

  1. Check if school X has a local alumni group (Google search) and if so, reach out to them and ask if there is anyone willing to meet with you via Zoom or Skype for an informal informational interview. Use this meeting as an opportunity to learn more about the school, and demonstrate your interest in attending.
  2. Use social media to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to follow your WL school on FB, Instagram, Snap or other social channels, or Tweet to them your desire to attend. Don’t forget to open all email correspondence from the school, as schools track opens/clicks as interest.

I’m often asked if I think doing everything on this list is too much, and I do not. All of these strategies are acceptable forms of demonstrating interest even when combined. Accepting your spot on the WL is a standard, required communication. Sending a waitlist letter, and even a follow-up email after a few weeks (for example, to inform admissions of an award at school, National Merit, a promotion at work, or admission to a selective internship/summer program) is not communication overkill. When a counselor calls a school on your behalf to advocate for you or facilitates the sending of an extra letter of support sent, it’s not viewed as bothersome.

Now… showing up on campus and begging, pleading, showering everyone in the office with gifts, staying for two hours until someone meets with you, or other over the top gimmicks or antics would be looked down upon, so please understand that this type of behavior is not appreciated or welcomed. The good thing is, you can’t show up on campus now, but I am leaving this note as a reminder of the level of inappropriate that is a big no.

Ultimately, you want to look back on being waitlisted and feel like you gave it your best shot!

More questions about the WL? Email us!

 

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

Why Did Yale Choose You

Why Did Yale Choose You

Although I did smirk reading the subtitle Embracing Average, I really enjoyed Alexandra Gers’ reflection in the Yale News on her application file and why Yale chose her. Anyway, what stood out to me was this:

When I flipped the page, it was kind of like being slapped in the face. “She didn’t strike me as thoughtful, introspective or determined.” Repeatedly. “I couldn’t figure out what she was passionate about.”

For high school students targeting (or preparing to target) selective colleges and universities, take note:

  • Thoughtful
  • Introspective
  • Determined
  • A clearly defined passion (I don’t love the word passion so let’s call this “interest”)

 

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

The Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Entrepreneurship

The Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Entrepreneurship

We have broken out entrepreneurship programs into a new post because of the popularity of exploration in this field. And yes, we know many summer programs will not run this summer, but we are going to share anyway for anyone looking ahead to next summer 🙂

Find some of our favorites below!

LaunchX

Join a highly-curated group of promising young entrepreneurs from around the globe for four intense weeks. You’ll learn from industry experts and work in a group of peer co-founders to build real products and solve business challenges in viable ways. LaunchX isn’t a business plan competition – students start real companies. These startups are driven by using the design thinking process to discover innovative opportunities, backed by extensive market research, multiple iterations of prototypes and user testing, and gaining traction through getting real customers and partnerships. Learn more here.

Cornell University, Social Entrepreneurship: Transforming Lives, Resolving Problems

This highly interactive, award-winning program tackles nothing less than helping you identify your hopes, dreams, and plans for transforming yourself and the world. The course is fast-paced and largely discussion-based. Under the leadership of Dr. Anke Wessels, you’ll learn the fundamental principles for solving problems, fostering innovation, and creating change—and you’ll then apply this knowledge to your own social venture. Learn more here.

Babson College, Introduction to the Entrepreneurial Experience

Introduction to the Entrepreneurial Experience allows you to develop your problem-solving and teamwork skills that you can apply in limitless settings, including business, nonprofit, government, and your career. In this course, we “learn by doing” and explore social, economic, and environmental problems through an entrepreneurial lens. You’ll gain exposure to key concepts in entrepreneurship, management, marketing, finance, business communication, and other disciplines. Learn more here.

The University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley Business Academy for Youth

Great ideas are everywhere. Yet, great businesses built on top of great ideas are far more rare. B-BAY, a proven business program for youth, lets you experience the powerful combination of great ideas and great business sense by developing a business idea and creating your team’s business plan—all in just two weeks. Learn more here.

Non-“Program” Ideas We Love

Khan Academy Modules

Free Online Classes from Top Colleges & Universities

Books

  • Outliers
  • Lost and Founder
  • The Lean Startup
  • Good to Great
  • Zero to One

Internships/Job Shadow/Volunteer

  • Ask us about this one via contact form here!

 

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

We’ve Got You!

We’ve Got You!

We know this may be an uncertain time for you and your family, and we want to make sure that you know we are here to support you as you await your admission decisions, decide where you want to enroll, and try to figure out the rest of the school year.

If you are already working with us, please know that you can reach out at any time.

If you are not working with us and you need support as you navigate enrollment options or the transfer application process, please reach out. We are happy to answer questions at no charge, as appropriate (be mindful there are limits as to what we can advise on at this time), if you can no longer receive support from your in-school counseling staff and teachers. You can reach us through the contact form or via social media.

If you know a student without support at this time, please have them reach out.

Keep checking back as we post about important admissions-related updates. A few include:

ACT & SAT Testing Updates

The College Board and ACT are canceling and rescheduling some spring test dates. ACT updates are here and SAT updates are here. Students should plan to check for updates regularly, as things have changed very recently.

NACAC College Admission Status Update

NACAC has developed a tool that compiles updates from colleges and universities about how they are adapting to the impact of COVID-19. Many colleges are changing policies around school visits, deadlines for replying to offers and submitting enrollment deposits, and sharing other ways to get in contact. Please find the tool here.

Stay healthy and positive!

 

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

Register for GenHERation Discovery Days 2020!

Register for GenHERation Discovery Days 2020!

GenHERation Discovery Days 2020 are immersive summer day trips that provide high school and college women with the opportunity to visit more than 50 of the most innovative companies in America.

WHO?

  • High school and college women

WHAT?

  • Visit the most innovative companies in America
  • Engage with female executives
  • Participate in skill-building simulations
  • Earn exclusive rewards and scholarships

WHERE/WHEN?

Austin: Tuesday, June 2, 2020

  • NFP, Google, IBM, and Austin Symphony Orchestra

Miami: Thursday, June 4, 2020

  • Miami Dolphins, Duane Morris, Zoo Miami, and EY

Atlanta: Sunday, June 7-Monday, June 8, 2020

  • CNN, Atlanta Braves, IBM, and EY

Dallas: Monday, June 15-Tuesday, June 16, 2020

  • Texas Rangers, Pizza Hut, Dallas Stars, and EY

Seattle: Wednesday, July 8-Thursday, July 9, 2020

  • Amazon, Seattle Mariners, Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Microsoft

San Francisco: Tuesday, July 14, 2020

  • Signature Bank, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Adobe

Los Angeles: Wednesday, July 15-Thursday, July 16, 2020

  • CAA, Mattel, Netflix, Snapchat, EY

New York City: Monday, July 20-Tuesday, July 21, 2020

  • AllSaints, J.P. Morgan, Tiffany & Co., BuzzFeed, and EY

Philadelphia: Thursday, July 23, 2020

  • Philadelphia Phillies, Hartford Funds, Urban Outfitters, and Comcast

Washington, D.C.: Monday, July 27-Tuesday, July 28, 2020

  • NASA, Under Armour, GMMB, and EY

WHY?

  • The only experience that gives you a behind-the-scenes look at your favorite companies
  • Meet the most powerful female leaders in America
  • Explore different career paths
  • Share your resume with top companies across the country
  • Jump-start you career
  • Our last four summer tours were recognized as the largest career exploration trips in the United States and celebrated by Former First Lady Michelle Obama

Learn how GenHERation member Clayton B. got an internship with the Oprah Winfrey Network through Discovery Days here. Check out this Fast Company article to learn how Ariana S. received her first job on our Discovery Days bus.

Tickets are selling out fast! Buy your tickets HERE!

The Best Summer Programs for High School Students: STEM

The Best Summer Programs for High School Students: STEM

There are tons of interesting and fun summer programs out there! However, the ones we most often suggest are those that help you explore your academic interests. As part of your college application, they help demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and commitment to an area of study (typically, the one you might pursue in college).

The following programs are some of our favorites for students interested in STEM.

Garcia Program, Stony Brook University

This is an intensive seven-week program for gifted high school students which combines formal instruction with independent research and allows students to design original research projects with guidance from Garcia Center faculty, students, and staff. Students can continue during the academic year in the Mentor Program, which allows them to plan a research schedule with a faculty mentor throughout the year. Pre-arranged transportation and class schedules are coordinated with local school boards to enable students from a large geographical area to enroll in the program. Almost three hundred high school students have participated in this program since its inception. Learn more here.

Research Science Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Each summer, 80 of the world’s most accomplished high school students gather at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the Research Science Institute (RSI). RSI is the first cost-free to students, summer science & engineering program to combine on-campus course work in scientific theory with off-campus work in science and technology research. Participants experience the entire research cycle from start to finish. They read the most current literature in their field, draft and execute a detailed research plan, and deliver conference-style oral and written reports on their findings. RSI scholars first participate in a week of intensive STEM classes with accomplished professors. The heart of RSI is the five-week research internship where students conduct individual projects under the tutelage of mentors who are experienced scientists and researchers. During the final week of RSI, students prepare written and oral presentations on their research projects. Learn more here.

COSMOS, University of California (Multiple Campuses)

COSMOS is an intensive four-week summer residential program for students who have demonstrated an aptitude for academic and professional careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Talented and motivated students completing grades 8-12 have the opportunity to work with renowned faculty, researchers and scientists in state-of-the-art facilities, while exploring advanced STEM topics far beyond the courses usually offered in California high schools. Through challenging curricula that are both hands-on and lab intensive, COSMOS fosters its students’ interests, skills, and awareness of educational and career options in STEM fields. Learn more here.

Simons Summer Research Program, Stony Brook University

Established in 1984 as an outreach program for local high school students, the Simons Summer Research program now attracts applicants from all across the country to the Stony Brook campus: Simons Fellows are matched with Stony Brook faculty mentors, join a research group or team, and assume responsibility for a project. The Simons Fellows conclude their apprenticeship by producing a written research abstract and a research poster. In addition to learning valuable techniques and experiencing life at a major research university, Simons Fellows attend weekly faculty research talks and participate in special workshops, tours and events. At the closing poster symposium, students are presented with a $1,000 stipend award. Learn more here.

MIT Beaverworks Summer Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The MIT Beaver Works Summer Institute (BWSI) is a rigorous, world-class STEM program for talented students who will be entering their senior year in high school. The four-week program teaches STEM skills through project-based, workshop-style courses. BWSI began in 2016 with a single course offered to 46 students, a mix of local daytime students and out-of-state residential students. In this course, RACECAR (Rapid Autonomous Complex Environment Competing Ackermann steering) students programmed small robotic cars to autonomously navigate a racetrack. The positive student reaction to our hands-on learning style led to the expansion of the program to include two additional courses in 2017, Autonomous Air Vehicle Racing and Autonomous Cognitive Assistant. To make sure students had the STEM background to participate fully in the three courses, the BWSI instructors developed online tutorials that students had to complete as a prerequisite for applying for the summer program.  In 2017, 98 students from 49 high schools nationwide enjoyed BWSI. Learn more here.

Non-“Program” Ideas We Love

Khan Academy Modules

Free Online Classes from Top Colleges & Universities

Highlights for High School

  • Via MIT. Learn more here.

Lab Internship/Shadow

  • Ask us about this one!

 

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

Campus Visit Canceled? How to Get to Know Colleges Online

Campus Visit Canceled? How to Get to Know Colleges Online

The in-person campus tour is not the only or even the single best way to get to know a school, which is a good thing considering COVID-19 is causing most schools to cancel their on-campus visits programs. Neither is that gigantic Fiske guide, College Confidential (that site is stress-inducing, please stay away from it, same with Reddit), or what your older sibling or cousin told you based on findings from their college search process.

Meaningful college research should take place in several different ways, and luckily, it can take place from the comfort of your own home.

Here are five ways you can continue your college research and get to know schools while on-campus visits are on hold.

College/University Websites

Read the websites of the schools on your list, and not just the admissions and financial aid pages. I would read those—but to understand how to apply, not why to apply…unless it is one of the admissions office/officer’s blogs that I talk about here, as those might help you see why you’d want to attend.

I suggest starting with the pages of the department in which you hope to study (or think you might hope to study). What does the curriculum look like? How many and what types of classes are offered? Are there affiliated clubs, events, other special programs of interest? Find a faculty member who is undertaking research in your area of interest and reach out to them with three or four questions you have about the program or their research that you can’t find answers to online. If they are unable to speak to you, ask if they can suggest someone else who might be able to help. Can’t get through to any faculty members? Contact the department’s administrative assistant or department coordinator and see if they can help you make an initial connection. For example, here you can find the contact info for the program coordinator of Penn’s Department of Psychology. If not, ask your regional rep to help you get this information.

I also suggest pinpointing two or three clubs you might want to join. See if you can connect with a current student or faculty lead within each to learn more. Most club’s general admin contact info is posted online. Here is the contact info for Fordham’s Finance Society, as well as a zillion contacts for USC student clubs.

Lastly, you might want to get a sense of what the campus looks like and can do so via a virtual tour if you can’t go in person. Many colleges provide virtual tour options now. For example, here is one created by Santa Clara University in California.

CampusReel

Speaking of tours, whether you can get to campus in person or not, you will want to check out CampusReel for an insider look at the colleges and universities on your list. Real college students submit video clips that take you through a day in the life, dorms, dining halls, classrooms, and so on. For example, I enjoyed this video from a UC Santa Barbara student on what she wished she knew before she started. You will also get a pretty good sense of what the campus looks like in reality as the guides are not employees of the admissions office, and what you see is probably closer to what you will get compared to the virtual tour created by the school.

Coursera and edX

If you can’t get to campus and glimpsing a school’s academics firsthand is important to you (it should be!), then head over to Coursera and edX and sign up for a class. They are free, informative, and you might learn something, not to mention they give you an extra talking point (or ten) for application materials and interviews. You will get a sense of what college-level courses entail, and I also see it as a way to demonstrate interest. A few classes I like and have had students take include:

Network with Local Alumni Groups

Don’t know anyone who went to your dream school? Look no further than your local alumni group. If you are not sure if your area has an alumni group, ask Google. I entered “NYU alumni club NJ” and got the link to info on the NJ group right away. You will be sending a cold email but I don’t see anything wrong with that. You are showing interest in their alma mater. If someone is a member of their alumni group, they probably like to connect with people like you. You are demonstrating a desire above and beyond other prospective students to get to know the school, and they love their school! That is never a bad look. And if no one replies to you, at least you know you tried. If there is no local or regional group where you live, try to locate one closest to you. Again, there is really no downside to trying to connect with alumni to learn more about their school.

Social Media

Not the best way to get to know a school well, but some college accounts are not half bad. I follow a few schools on Instagram, and the “takeover” stories by admissions office staff and students can be insightful. I particularly like the UChicago and Barnard pages.

If you believe in finding a school that is best matched with your goals for college (not just a school with a certain brand, good sports team, etc.), the above outreach will help you figure out which school that might be—so use this time to get researching!

 

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Business

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Business

The best programs are the ones that help you explore your academic interests. As part of your college application, they help demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and commitment to an area of study (typically, the one you might pursue in college).

The following programs are some of our favorites for students interested in exploring business.

The University of Pennsylvania, Leadership in the Business World (LBW)

Supported by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Leadership in the Business World (LBW) is an intensive summer program for a select group of rising high school juniors and seniors who want an introduction to a top-notch undergraduate business education and the opportunity to hone their leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. Learn more here.

New York Univesity, Summer @ Stern

Summer @ Stern through NYU Precollege offers rising high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to learn fundamental concepts of business—including accounting, finance, economics, marketing, and psychology—from NYU Stern’s world-renowned faculty.  Summer @ Stern is a two-course program that will give high school students an introduction to business, college life, and the cultural vibrancy of New York City. Learn more here.

Cornell University, Fundamentals of Modern Marketing

In this rigorous program, you’ll gain an understanding of the forces at work in the buying and selling of goods, services, and ideas. You’ll learn about the principles and fundamentals of modern marketing by exploring real-world examples, such as the evolution of Tesla’s products and distribution, how Halo Top and other niche marketers compete with Unilever, and the communication approaches of Google’s Unskippable Labs (digital advertising) and Cheetos/USA Curling (sales promotion). Learn more here.

LEAD, Multiple College Campuses

The Summer Business Institute (SBI) program is LEAD’s longest running Summer Institute and is considered the “flagship” program. The SBI program exposes scholars to business principles and the skill sets needed for successful business careers. The program challenges them through applied learning experiences often facilitated by college professors, links scholars to corporate executives in business fields and peers with similar aspirations and abilities. During LEAD SBIs, scholars reside and attend classes on-campus at a select number of the nation’s top business schools for three or four weeks. SBIs provide diverse, high-achieving rising high school seniors the opportunity to explore finance, entrepreneurship, accounting and marketing, among other business sectors. Learn more here.

Fordham University, NYC Business Insider

It takes just one week—five days behind the scenes of Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and Silicon Alley—to show you what a career in business looks like. Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business invites high school juniors and seniors to experience New York City as the commercial capital of the world. Network with new friends, and maybe even with your future college professors. Visit the boardrooms, showrooms, and stadiums where business gets done in New York. Learn more here.

Non-“Program” Ideas We Love

Khan Academy Modules

Free Online Classes from Top Colleges & Universities

JUV Consulting

  • Gain experience with prototype testing and feedback, give your opinions and perspectives on trends, be a part of potential focus groups, contribute to school outreach programs, and participate in brand ambassadorship opportunities. Learn more here.

Internship

  • Ask us about this one!

 

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

Kids Don’t Need to Stay ‘On Track’ to Succeed

Kids Don’t Need to Stay ‘On Track’ to Succeed

When parents portray success as a linear progression of SAT scores, acceptance to selective colleges, and high-powered internships, they set kids up for disappointment.

An important article by Madeline Levine (for parents and students!) that you can read here via The Atlantic.

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

Regular Decision Notification Dates

Regular Decision Notification Dates

Colleges and universities are releasing regular decision results this month and into April. Schools often post results in advance of their “official” notification dates.

My favorite college-admissions-related data site, College Kickstart, has compiled release dates along with the notification dates from last year, which might help you predict when a school will release early. Bookmark this page, as they post updates often.

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*