If you received a letter from a college stating that admission has been deferred and you've been added to the school's wait list, don't panic. Take a deep breath and then take a moment, or several moments if needed, and process what being wait listed is all about.
Barbara Cooke, author of the "Parent's Guide to College and Careers: How to Help, not Hover" (May 2010), suggests that rather than focusing all your emotional energy on hoping for acceptance, have an honest conversation with your parents about expectations for college. "What do you expect to happen differently if you go to college A vs. college B? What do your parents expect to happen differently? If you make the wait list for a selective or highly selective institution, you have strong personal and academic skills to begin with. You will flourish and grow at any one of a number of schools."
Maureen P. Tillman, L.C.S.W., founder of College with Confidence, encourages students to take a close look at the positives of the schools that you did get into. "There are many colleges where you can be happy. Explore these fully. No school is perfect.
For the most part, it is what you make of the college experience that matters."
It's not personal. It's business.
Students and parents need to understand that a wait list is a business process and not a personal critique of wait-listed applicants. According to Cooke, "College recruiting and admissions is a complex and sophisticated financial business that is focused on increasing applicant yields and generating net revenue. Colleges need a full class of incoming students to help them meet their revenue goals. Having a wait list is the way colleges make sure they will have a full class of students and thereby meet targeted goals."
Since it's likely that you won't hear from the school that wait listed you until July, go ahead and make plans to visit or re-visit the colleges who did offer you admission. You will need to reply to one of your admission offers and submit a deposit by May 1 to secure a seat at another college. Visiting a college now, as an admitted student, can shed new light on what that school has to offer.