How to Improve Your Chances of Admission when Wait-Listed

Letter According to Stephanie Klein Wassink, founder of Winning Applications, a college and graduate school consulting firm, "It is possible to improve one's chances of admission when wait-listed." It's safe to say that Wassink knows a thing or two about the college admissions process and, in particular, what it feels like to be wait-listed.

Once on the wait-list for University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Wassink went on to secure admittance. Years later she became a member of the admissions committee for Northwestern University’s
Kellogg School where she read and evaluated 2000 applications annually, performed as many as 50 interviews per week, and made admit, deny, deferral and wait-list recommendations to the Director of Admissions.

Today, an independent college admissions counselor,Wassink offers the following advice to students who find themselves on the wait list:

  • If you have not interviewed with someone from the admissions committee, now is the time to do so (preferably on campus).
  • Be sure to practice your interview skills with a seasoned interviewer until you are confident that your skills are strong. (We'd like to add that you take care to dress appropriately for your college admissions interview).
  • If you can, visit the campus again, attend an admissions information session, and take time to ask these Important questions:
         "What percent of students are typically admitted after being deferred?"
         "Is there anything I can do that might increase my chances of gaining admission?" 

According to Wassink, not only will this earmark you as a deferred candidate, but the
information session speaker may note your visit and strong school
interest in your application file. "When your application is reevaluated
that interest will shine through. Since schools are more inclined to
extend offers to students they believe will accept admission, this is

She also recommends asking someone who has NOT read your application to read it and offer constructive criticism. This may give you a fresh perspective on why you were deferred. Perhaps, unknowingly, you gave the wrong impression or neglected to include something important. Not only will you hopefully be able to "fix it" by sending the school that deferred you some clarification, but you may also be able to head-off a similar miscommunication at other schools.

And, most importantly, without becoming a nuisance, keep the admissions committee abreast of any NEW accomplishments on a regular basis.


For more information about Stephanie or Winning Applications, please visit the company web site or send an email to