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What should I do if waitlisted for a private school?

Last updated: 
January 18, 2024

Should I contact the school I got waitlisted from?

Yes, If you’re still interested in the school, let them know and accept a position on the waitlist. It’s okay to ask about your chances of being admitted and a timeline; just be prepared that the purpose of the waitlist is to fill unexpected openings, so they may not be able to provide the desired clarity. 

What percent of waitlisted students get accepted?

Because private schools know that a percentage of accepted students won’t enroll and they account for this when sending admittance letters, the hard truth is that only a small number of waitlisted students are admitted.

If I’m waitlisted at my top choice school(s), should I accept an enrollment offer from another school?

Because only a small percentage of waitlisted students are enrolled, your best option is to accept an admission offer at another school. If you subsequently receive an enrollment offer from the waitlisted school, you can still take it; however, it will likely mean forfeiting your deposit at the second school.

When will I find out if I’ve been enrolled from the waitlist?

The agonizing part of being on the waitlist is that there’s little predictability in when an enrollment offer may arrive. The first thing to check on is the school’s enrollment date for accepted students, which is often published on the school’s website. 

Once the enrollment date has passed and the school knows how many students are planning on attending, it may have open spots to fill through the waitlist. After the enrollment period has passed, waitlisted students are primarily waiting for an enrolled student to unenroll, which can happen anywhere leading up to—and even after—the start of school. 

How often should I check with the school on the waitlist status?

Private school admissions teams understand the situation that waitlisted families are in, and they are typically willing to have open and honest discussions to help you make the best decision for your family. 

So, how often should you check in? The best thing is to ask your admissions contact directly and set the expectation with them. For example, during your initial conversation after receiving the waitlist notification, ask if it is appropriate to call back after the school’s enrollment deadline for an update. 

This way you are simultaneously reaffirming your interest in the school while also being respectful of your contact’s time.

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